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Shipping containers await transportation at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port in 2012.
Shipping containers await transportation at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port in 2012. Heng Chivoan

Port officials chart course for maritime trade growth

Port officials from ASEAN member states gathered in Phnom Penh yesterday to discuss ways of improving the region’s cargo port system and further standardising maritime trade procedures, a Cambodian port official said yesterday.

Lou Kim Chhun, CEO of Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, said the 37th ASEAN Ports Association (APA) working committee meeting represented an important step for efforts to increase cargo and passenger flow across the region and bridge the free-trade gaps within ASEAN.

“Today we will discuss issues related to cargo clearance systems, implementing greater use of electronic management of goods and simplifying documentation requirements,” he said.

“We want to simplify trade procedures across all ASEAN ports and improve the efficiency of shipping management systems.”

Cambodia’s government needs to work closely with the private sector and logistics firms to improve the competitiveness of the Kingdom’s ports, said Nhiev Kol, Cambodia general manager of CMA-CGM, one of the world’s leading container shipping companies.

For the country to compete regionally and globally, adoption of new technologies needs to be more widespread, he added.

“Electronic documentation, e-clearance of shipped goods and other general online tools are becoming increasingly useful in reducing manual work, hidden costs and unnecessary paperwork,” he said.

“Cambodian port terminals need to start using electronic data interchanges and improve their facilities to reduce operational inefficiencies so that the country can attract more vessels to its ports.”

Cambodia is behind most other countries in the region it comes to implementing electronic systems for the management and operation of its maritime trade hubs, according to Kol.

He added that logistics firms have an important role in supporting import and export activities, especially when it comes to driving Cambodia’s exports of agricultural products.

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