Cambodia has introduced additional measures concerning the import of frozen meats and other chilled goods, especially those originating in countries with higher Covid-19 caseloads, in a bid to stamp out the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Effective from August 1, the move comes after the government incinerated three shipping containers carrying buffalo meat imported from India that were found to be contaminated with the virus.
Additional certificates or certified statements indicating coronavirus-negative status will be strictly required for imports of frozen meat, issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin, the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) said in a letter published on July 30, signed by director-general Kun Nhem.
All imports of frozen meat and other chilled goods from India or neighbouring countries with more severe outbreaks will have to be tested for the contagion by the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, it said, adding that all packaging of these items must sprayed with disinfectant.
The GDCE did not specifically name the applicable neighbouring countries.
These imports must be treated “in accordance with the risk management principles for frozen goods imported into Cambodia from other countries with a high risk of infection with the Covid-19 virus, before being allowed to arrange for the customs clearance of goods”, the GDCE said.
It noted that the Customs Audit Department and the Department of Information Technology must work together to prepare and maintain a list of the countries deemed to be high risk for coronavirus infection, especially its Delta variant, and to identify mechanisms for random selection via an automated customs management system for shipping containers to be sampled for virus testing.
When a container is flagged for testing, customs authorities at the port of entry will notify and guide the owner of the goods through the process, which is to be conducted at the owner’s expense, the GDCE said.
In cooperation with other competent authorities and in accordance with the regulations in force, the authorities are to arrange for samples of the goods to be tested at the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, keep record of the consignments sent for testing, and compile monthly reports to be sent to the GDCE, it added.
If the results are negative, the authorities will notify the owner, who will then complete the customs clearance forms as per usual, it said, noting that positive cases will be immediately referred to GDCE chief Nhem for further action.
If Nhem decides that the goods will be destroyed, all expenses shall be borne by the owner, the GDCE noted.
Goods that have cleared customs cannot be supplied to the market or consumers unless the results of the test specifically came back coronavirus-negative, it said.