Price negotiations remain a significant hurdle in the initiative to officially export Cambodian pepper to the Arab market.

The delay persists despite the fact that domestic demand in Cambodia accounts for only about 5-10% of the annual pepper yield, according to the Cambodian Pepper and Spices Federation (CPSF)

In an interview with The Post on February 6, Mak Ny, president of the CPSF, revealed that although the federation has been actively trying to expand pepper export markets to Arab countries, official exports are yet to commence. 

He identified pricing as a major barrier in the negotiations between member companies of the CPSF and potential Arab buyers, stating that an agreement has not yet been reached.

“Due to unresolved price negotiations, there has been no official pepper export to Arab countries,” he said.

“While there’s no official data on pepper exports, I believe some unofficial exports may have taken place,” he added. 

However, Ny did not disclose specific details about the ongoing discussions between Cambodian suppliers and companies looking to export pepper to the Arab market.

He noted that Cambodia typically produces between 17,000 and 20,000 tonnes of pepper annually on nearly 7,000ha of land. 

He said the majority of the production is intended for export, as domestic demand represents only a small portion of the total yield. 

He added that the remainder is exported to international markets via countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, China and EU members.

Nguon Lay, president of the Kampot Pepper Promotion Association (KPPA), stated that the province’s pepper, a geographical indication (GI) brand, has never encountered market or price issues, mainly because it is consistently purchased by traders. 

“Because Kampot pepper is of standard, high quality taste, we have never faced problems in exporting,” he explained.

He added that since 2015, the price of Kampot (GI) pepper has remained stable, with current prices standing at $15/kg for black pepper, $25/kg for red and $28/kg for white.

According to Lay, about 100 tonnes are harvested annually in the province, with the product exported to over 50 countries, predominantly in Europe.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ 2023 annual report indicated a decline in the country’s agricultural exports. The country exported a total of 8,449,414 tonnes of agricultural products in 2023, a 1.9% decrease compared to 2022. 

Specifically, pepper production saw a 26.76% decrease, totalling 6,153 tonnes.

Former Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak previously highlighted the importance of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a key country in the Arab region, for Cambodia’s agricultural exports due to its need for food security. 

He predicted the UAE will become a major market for Cambodian agricultural sales in the future and, through the UAE, Cambodian products are also expected to reach other countries in the Arab region.