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GDCE fasttracks shipping to ease pressure on sector

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Cambodian customs officers open a container in Sihanoukville Autonomous Port. AFP

GDCE fasttracks shipping to ease pressure on sector

The General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) on Friday issued a set of measures to help the ailing shipping and garment sectors as the supply of raw materials from China dries up.

The measures follow Prime Minister Hun Sen’s announcement that the government has drafted a plan to support businesses in the garment and tourism sectors as they grapple with the consequences of the EU’s partial withdrawal of its Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme and the novel coronavirus outbreak in China.

GDCE instructed officers to facilitate shipments for companies that comply with regulation and companies that operate in special economic zones (SEZs). In addition, the agency has extended the green lane customs clearance system.

GDCE asked officers to work more efficiently, act with professionalism, and cooperate closely with SEZs, ports and airport authorities as well as transportation companies.

“We ask all customs officers to be more efficient in their work and speed up paperwork for the importation of raw materials for garment factories. All the customs officers must follow the new guidelines with immediate effect,” GDCE said.

The Chinese embassy in Cambodia said about 60 per cent of raw materials used in local garment and footwear factories come from China.

“The spread of Covid-19 in China is hurting factories here. Many now face a shortage of raw materials. The Chinese government is committed to finding a solution,” the embassy said.

Speaking during a press conference at the Office of the Council of Ministers last week, ministry spokesman Heng Sour said 10 factories have already run out of raw materials as suppliers in China close due to Covid-19. He warned that the worst was yet to come.

“In March, we could see as many as 200 factories and enterprises running out of raw materials. The worst-case scenario is that about 160,000 workers will be affected,” Sour said.

He said the production standstill in China is affecting supply chains around the world, particularly in Asia. He pointed out that many factories in South Korea were suspending operations because of a shortage of raw materials.

Sour expressed hope that Cambodia would be first in line once supply was restored.

GMAC last week lauded the immediate action taken by the government in response to the challenges faced.

“The prime minister’s official announcement has appeased our concerns and we express our gratitude for the detailed and timely measures laid out by the government to mitigate the impact caused by the Covid-19 outbreak and the partial withdrawal of the EBA.

“We will continue to participate in consultations with the ministries and relevant institutions on the implementation of the policy, which will solve industry challenges and will placate investor sentiment,” said GMAC.

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