A draft law on rules of origin was unanimously approved by the National Assembly (NA) during the June 12 session, with 96 supporting votes.

Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and defender of the draft law, explained that it was designed to determine the principles and rules on the origin of exports and imports to promote and facilitate trade under preferential trade systems, ensure the origin of Cambodian goods for quality assurance and brand protection, while also preventing fraud.

“This draft law is a further development of economic and trade legal documents that were designed in accordance with the principles of ASEAN and the World Trade Organisation [WTO].

“They are an important part of our legal system and will work in parallel with the recent bilateral, regional and multilateral free trade agreements we have made, such as deals with China [CCFTA] and South Korea [CKFTA] as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RCEP],” he said.

He added that the government believes that once the law comes into force, it will play an important part in facilitating Cambodian exports, especially those that enjoy preferential tariffs, and under the various free trade agreements of which Cambodia is a member.

“It will preserve the economic benefits gained from these preferential trade systems and free trade agreements, as well as helping to mobilise national budget revenue by contributing to the prevention and curbing of fraudulent goods, by ensuring that goods exported from Cambodia originate here,” he explained.

“It will also contribute to the development of the national economy and improve social welfare, thus helping the Kingdom to meet its commitment under the framework of the WTO,” he said.

Nin Saphon, chairwoman of the NA’s ninth Commission, stated that after drafting the Law on the Rules of Origin, the government requested assistance from specialists from the WTO and the UN Conference on Trade and Development to review and offer input, in order to ensure that the draft is consistent with WTO agreements and international best practice.

“All nine chapters and 35 articles of the law have been thoroughly reviewed, discussed and revised in detail, in accordance with the input received from meetings with several relevant institutions,” she said.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economist Ky Sereyvath described the new law as essential to protecting local producers.

“In the past, some corrupt traders brought goods in from abroad and then tried to export them as Cambodian. This law will end this practice and allow us to increase our exports and step up local production,” he said.