The results of a crucial ongoing study will enable Cambodia to set out a framework of strategies to enhance the efficiency of the trade facilitation environment and the Kingdom’s competitiveness on the international stage, according to General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) director-general Kun Nhem.
The customs agency, under the Ministry of Economy and Finance, on October 11 organised an online workshop on the “Time Release Study-2021”, in collaboration with the Japanese Customs and Tariff Bureau, Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and the World Customs Organisation (WCO).
Time release studies (TRS) measure the average time required from the arrival of cargo at the port of entry until the physical release of the goods, and serve as a gauge for the actual performance and operational efficiency of border procedures, including customs processes, to enable faster, simpler, safer and lower-cost trade flows to benefit traders.
The workshop was organised in keeping with the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO-TFA) and Cambodia’s obligations to meet ASEAN requirements pertinent to tracking and analysing trade transaction costs, according to Nhem.
He told the seminar that the research monitors customs release times and pinpoints shortcomings at all stages of the clearance process.
“This study … will set out basic supplementary recommendations for stakeholders to continue to improve procedures, and further update the duties of each institution, to streamline and make trade facilitation processes more effective and boost Cambodia’s competitiveness,” he said.
Present at the workshop were representatives of the industry, agriculture, commerce, health, and environment ministries as well as the Council for the Development of Cambodia, Sihanoukville Autonomous Port and Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, according to a press release.
Also represented at the seminar were the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Business Association of Cambodia, Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) and development partners from Japan Customs, Jica and the WCO.
CLA president Sin Chanthy feels that he has gained a breadth of insight into the intricacies and nuances of the customs clearance process at the workshop.
He told The Post on October 12 that the event “has given us a better grasp on the timing of customs clearance, as an indicator for measurement, in the presence of customs authorities of other countries”.
Chanthy shared that the domestic transportation is generally faring better, on the back of successful Covid-19 vaccination campaigns across the Kingdom.
He claimed that domestic transport activity had reached near pre-pandemic levels, but pointed out that shipping costs to distant destinations such as the US and the EU remain high.
The press release added that data collected for the study would be compiled starting in the fourth week of this month, with analyses on the results to be conducted thereafter.
Statistics cover a range of operating characteristics such as the issuance of licences, certificates and permits and on-site applications for import and export – at the airport in the capital, as well as Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville autonomous ports and a number of inland intermodal terminals across the Kingdom.
Nhem asserted that TRSs undertaken in 2013 and 2019 have yielded “good results”.