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Surge in new product standards as tariffs fall

A recent surge in the development of national standards for manufactured goods and food products is creating more opportunities for local products in regional markets, a government official said yesterday.

Chheng Uddara, director of standard development training and consultancy department, said Cambodia has adopted 770 standards – of which 122 are voluntary – that are essential for trading within the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

“After the creation of the AEC there is a free market, which means that there are no longer tariff barriers, but instead standard requirements for products,” he said, “So in order to export our products, we need documented evidence that our products meet standards of quality and safety.”

The effort to develop new standards is a concerted one, with a palpable sense of immediacy. Between 2000 and 2013 about five new standards were developed each year. In 2014, with the AEC launch date fast approaching, an initiative to set standards saw nearly 350 new standards adopted. The activity continued last year with at least 237 new standards.

Keo Chet, director of Gold Palm Social Enterprise, which sells palm sugar products, said while exporting is desirable, he must go through a timely and costly administrative procedure to certify that his shipments meet national standards.

“Applying the standards to my products is not a concern because I already aim to produce standard, quality products,” Chet said. “The barrier for me is the time it takes to obtain the documentation.”

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