The Ministry of Commerce and Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) are investigating rice packaging that uses Angkor Wat as its logo but claims to be a “Product of Thailand”.
Moul Sarith, the secretary-general of the CRF, said it is aware of the matter and is cooperating with the ministry to bring those responsible to book.
“We are cooperating with the Ministry of Commerce to investigate the source of the product, but at present we cannot say where it came from or who produced it. We will work with our embassies to find its distributor and origin,” he said,However, the CRF remains optimistic that such matters will not harm the Cambodian rice industry.
“We have just received this information, but I think it will not harm our rice exports as we have rice brand and logo controls, as well as checks for quality,” Sarith said.
Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith was alerted to the situation after he received a photo of the sacks from an American.
In a Facebook post, Kanharith urged the Ministry of Commerce to act against the packages printed with the Angkor Wat logo and the words “Premium Rice” in Khmer, and “Product of Thailand” in English.
Song Saran, CEO of AMRU Rice Co Ltd, said he had been aware of such bogus products for “many years”, especially in Cambodia’s export markets – the US and EU – and in other countries such as Australia.
“We informed the government many years ago about the bogus products but no action was ever taken to our knowledge,” he said.
He said it is an abuse of international trade law to use the World Heritage Site as a logo without registering with the Ministry of Commerce, and saying it was produced in Thailand or another country.
“Through our embassies, the Ministry of Commerce should work with vendors in the international market to find out who is behind this.
“It is happening a lot in the international market, and if it continues, it will surely hurt our market as consumers will be confused and lose trust in our products,” Saran saidMinistry spokesman Long Kemvichet confirmed that investigations were being made into the matter.
“We are fully aware of the matter and are taking appropriate action,” he said.
Data released this year by the General Department of Agriculture showed rice exports in the first four months of the year totalled 197,354 tonnes. This compares with the 212,394 tonnes exported in the same period last year, which is a year-on-year decrease of seven percent.