L ondon-based Intertek Testing Services has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government to build a US$10 million laboratory to test the quality of gemstones in Cambodia.
The centre, scheduled to be built in Phnom Penh next year, will test precious stones and jewelry products sold in Cambodia in order to standardise quality for trade.
The government hopes the centre will improve confidence over the quality of the Kingdom’s stones, after concerns were raised over by traders.
Cambodia’s Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh who attended the Friday signing ceremony, said that recently, international customers had criticised the quality of domestic products.
“The problems are not because Cambodian traders sold fake products, but because our sellers and buyers are not clear on [quality],” he said.
“The centre would elimination the lack of confidence between sellers and buyers,” he said.
The minister hopes the centre will be up and running in time for June 2011, when a jewellery expo is set to be held in the capital city.
Wolfhart Hauser chief executive officer of the Intertek Group said that the laboratory would help set quality standards in the sector, enabling the Kingdom to trade gems and jewelry in international markets – such as Europe and the United States.
“Through the investment, we hope Cambodia will have a high reputation in the gem stone sector in the future,” he said.
Traders yesterday welcomed the agreement as having the potential to increase knowledge within the sector and boost the market.
Im Vouch Heng, owner of Pailin Cut Gems, a shop in Phnom Penh, sources her gemstones from Takeo, Pailin, Mondulkiri, Ratanakirri provinces, while importing some from Thailand.
“It is very good to establish laboratory centre in here and I am happy.
“We hope that the centre will improve our knowledge more and more to do the business,” she said.
Intertek first established a presence in the Kingdom in 2003 and opened a new office in the capital earlier this year.
In August, a company representative said that it was pushing towards operating within extractive industries and agriculture in Cambodia.
Representatives of the mining sector have previously expressed hopes that a facility to test mineral samples would open in the county.
Currently, samples are being sent abroad for testing.
Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem in May raised the need to establish a laboratory in Cambodia as “an essential point” for the development of Cambodia’s mining sector.
It was not immediately clear whether the new facility would provide services to assay mineral deposits.
Intertek Group closed at 1,855 pence per share on the London Stock Exchange on Friday.