Enterprises, sole proprietorships, legal persons and affiliates of foreign companies that do business electronically in the Kingdom must start the application process for the pertinent e-commerce licences and permits on or before March 1, or face possible legal action, the Ministry of Commerce warned on December 1.

Aiming to protect Cambodian consumers, the statement extends a previous deadline, and comes amid a notable rise in businesses filing documents with the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications for the relevant licences and permits, following similar prior warnings, the commerce ministry noted.

Om Dararith, director of the Business Registration Department under the ministry’s Trade Support Services General Directorate, told The Post that the ministry reserves the right to suspend the online sales and other e-commerce operations of businesses without the proper permits that fail to apply by March 1, and slap them with fines of up to 10 million riel ($2,500).

He noted that the crackdown is part of the ministry’s plans to improve the consumer protection regime in the Kingdom, and was prompted by a high number of reported disputes and issues between buyers and sellers.

He underscored the importance of ensuring consumer protection, especially now in the world of Covid, where online business is all the rage and makes life easier for many, above all when it comes to buying food, clothes or other consumer goods.

“In the old days, there’d been a lack of trust between consumers and sellers, with buyers occasionally purchasing goods that wound up being different from what was advertised … or not delivered on time,” Dararith said.

“We see a lot of this, so we’ve enacted laws to safeguard the interests of consumers or buyers.”

Central to this legislation is the Law on Consumer Protection, which comprises 11 chapters and 51 articles and was promulgated on November 2, 2019.

The law sets forth rules and mechanisms designed to ensure a fair business environment that is built on a foundation of trust between consumers and traders where consumer rights and interests are well-protected.