Senior government officials and development partners are optimistic that the recently enacted Consumer Protection Law will instil stronger consumer confidence and lure more investors to Cambodia.

Speaking at a workshop on Wednesday accompanying the publication of national reports Consumer Awareness in Cambodian and ASEAN Consumer Protection Project, Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak said the law will provide the Kingdom’s consumers with additional safeguards and promote fair and healthy competition.

The law sets forth rules and mechanisms that will contribute to ensuring a fair business environment that is built on a foundation of trust between consumers and traders where consumer rights and interests are well-protected, he added.

“Consumer protection in the Kingdom of Cambodia is a new and relatively young topic compared to other countries in the region, so it is a laudable initiative to start implementing the new law to protect consumers,” Sorasak said.

Also present at the workshop was Dr Gunter W Riethmacher, German international development organisation Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit’s (GIZ’s) country director for Cambodia.

He said GIZ has been working with the ministry for nearly a decade implementing initiatives under the regional “ASEAN helps ASEAN” approach and learning from experience and good practice.

He said the “Consumer Protection in ASEAN” project strives to strengthen national consumer protection systems in Cambodia and other select ASEAN member states.

He noted that the project’s provisions include technical assistance to strengthen regional dialogue and cooperation; institutional and legal framework development; and dispute mitigation and resolution.

“Effective consumer protection is essential in creating a conducive and competitive business environment. It serves to counter fraudulent or unfair trade practices, which is critical in the face of increased cross-border and online transactions.

“At the same time, it helps guarantee and enforce basic consumer rights, among others to safety, choice, representation and redress. Promoting the interests and welfare of consumers is a central commitment of the ASEAN member states,” Riethmacher said.

Prak Sereyvath, the founder and director of the Cambodian Institute for Research and Rural Development (CIRD), noted that awareness of consumer protection measures remains very low in the Kingdom, citing a recent survey of 200 consumers “in Phnom Penh and rural areas”.

He noted that the survey centred on three key points – the level of understanding of consumer protection; consumer awareness, rationalisation and behaviour; and confidence in consumer protection regulations.

The Consumer Protection Law was enacted on November 2 and comprises 11 chapters and 51 articles.