The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MoEF) will scrap customs fees for rice exporters from May 1 in an effort to reduce production costs and boost Cambodia’s competitiveness in the sector, according to a letter obtained by the Post.
“[The ministry] has agreed to eliminate charges relating to customs processing fees for exporters of rice in order to boost the rice export industry,” said the letter, signed by Department of Customs and Excise officials.
The letter goes on to say that the fee changes will become effective on May 1, in less than two weeks time.
The government’s changes to the customs tariff scheme have been welcomed by rice industry officials and economists.
Kim Savuth, president of the Federation of Cambodian Rice Exporters (FCRE), said the government’s move will help cut production and export costs by at least $15 per shipping container.
With about 379,000 tonnes of Cambodian rice exported in 2013 via about 15,750 shipping containers, the MoEF’s decision could potentially save the industry more than $236,000 annually.
“This decision is like an invisible assistant to strengthen our competitiveness and boost our export,” Savuth said.
Savuth said all stakeholders in the rice sector, including exporters, millers and farmers stand to benefit from the fee cut.
The FCRE president added that gradual decreases in over-land transport charges between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville Port were also contributing to the sector’s cost-cutting measures.
Srey Chanthy, an independent agricultural analyst, welcomed the MoEF’s decision to eliminate all customs processing fees, saying it will save not only money but time for rice exporters.
“It creates an easier scheme for doing business and that is truly a big help in luring more investors to the country,”
“The government may lose a small amount of revenue from fees, but they will gain a lot of benefits.”
The move is the latest in a suite of changes to the Kingdom’s customs and export process. In an effort to cut red tape and automate processes for Cambodian exporters, the Ministry of Commerce earlier this year relaxed requirements relating to certificate of origin.
Just last week, the MoC also confirmed it was undergoing an internal shake-up to streamline the export process for all industries.