Uncertainty over business conditions and the impact of the spread of Covid-19 has prompted the Ministry of Commerce to postpone the issuing of fines until July for online business owners who are late to apply for e-commerce permits or licences.
The ministry announced last week that the postponement of fines for late submission of applications for e-commerce permissions and licences, originally due by March 1, has now been extended to July 1.
“At the request of traders, sole proprietorships and companies, coupled with the re-emergence of the new Omicron variant Covid-19 epidemic in the community, the Ministry of Commerce has decided to extend the deadline until July 1, 2022 to allow enough time for them to apply for permissions and licences,” the ministry said.
It emphasised, however, that businesses conducting e-commerce operations without permission would still be subject to fines and penalties as set out in the E-commerce Law system.
The ministry added that in order to legally conduct e-commerce operations in Cambodia, all foreign business owners, sole proprietors, legal entities and affiliates are to apply for a permit or licence in accordance with standard procedures.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post that technological advances, especially in the context of the spread of Covid-19, have meant that e-commerce has grown rapidly worldwide – including in the Kingdom.
However, he noted that the rapid pace of industry development meant that legislation and regulation designed by the authorities “has not been 100 per cent effective”.
Requiring all e-business proprietors to register and apply for licences from the ministry would strengthen the trust of stakeholders, including authorities, business partners and customers, Vanak added.
“The decision to issue this extension has been made because the Ministry of Commerce wants all e-business owners to be ready [for this change]. Having the correct registration [or e-commerce] licence will also offer confidence and legitimacy,” he said.
Sam Sokha, a vendor who sells car decoration accessories online, said he had been aware of the requirement to register with the commerce ministry for “about half a year”.
But he admitted he was not ready to register his business as, once listed, the state will require payment of various taxes on it – despite his sales being low, and his site being infrequently restocked.
Sokha said that if he had to pay more taxes, the price of his goods would have to be increased. “Now that there are more sellers, if my price is higher, who would buy them?”
He added that he will take a “wait and see” approach – observing how others conducting similar businesses will react to the registration of permissions or licences in the next few months – before proceeding.
This will be the third time that the commerce ministry has decided to make the reprieve to all e-commerce business owners. Previously, it had set the deadlines as December 1, 2021 and March 1.