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PM scraps rice-export licences to boost trade

PM scraps rice-export licences to boost trade

Hun Sen calls food-security measure a ‘barrier’ for rice traders

PRIME Minister Hun Sen axed rice export licences Tuesday in a bid to boost sales of the Kingdom’s “white gold”.

In a move widely welcomed by the business community, the premier ordered a 2008 circular to be cancelled. The document ordered would-be exporters to apply to a Ministry of Commerce-run company called Green Trade for a permit.

“We have to nullify applications for licences to export rice from Cambodia through the Green Trade Company now,” Hun Sen said at a Government-Private Sector Forum in Phnom Penh. “It is barrier for all rice traders at the moment,” he added.

The circulation, numbered 02, was issued in 2008, as food security concerns spread throughout the world. All traders who wanted to sell more than 200 tonnes of the grain had to apply for a permit, in an attempt to secure Cambodia's rice and paddy supply.

Now, Hun Sen believes export obstacles will exist unless the circulation is nullified.

The government wants to sell more rice into international markets to develop the economy.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Cambodia plans to increase paddy yield by as much as 3 tonnes per hectare by 2012. This farm year, April statistics show, the Kingdom could have 3.5 million tonnes of paddy left over for export, a 10.75 percent increase from the 3.16 million tonnes last year.

Director General of Green Trade, Thun Vireak, said Tuesday that he would not object to the nullification.

He said the permit plan had been initiated by the government.

Mong Reththy, who asked Hun Sen to “review export procedures” during the meeting, was pleased at the progress made.

The co-president of the Private Sector Task Force on Agricultural and Agro-industry said: “The re-examination of legal procedure for exporting agricultural products and the elimination of the unnecessary process of applying for licences through Green Trade company and other institutions will help bring about transparency and suitable costs for the export of agricultural products.”

Outh Renne, secretary general of the Cambodian Small and Medium Industries Association (CSMIA), said: “It will enable exporters to integrate themselves into international markets successfully.

CSMIA says four rice buyers from Sweden, Lithuania and Belgium will arrive in Cambodia on May 9 to meet with 100 rice mill representatives to discuss export capability.

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