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Takeo ice makers cry foul over Vietnamese imports

Takeo ice makers cry foul over Vietnamese imports

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Ice is brought into Diamond Island’s Ice House. Manufactures of similar blocks of ice in Takeo province have complained they are being under-cut by Vietnamese imports. Photo by: SOVAN PHILONG

TAKEO province ice makers have called on authorities to ban ice imports from Vietnam, claiming they are being under cut on pricing.

Electricity is more expensive in Cambodia than in neighbouring Vietnam, and evading tariffs is common practice at the border, giving imports unfair advantage, said Doun Keo district ice factory owner Chea Sok.

“One piece of my ice sells at 9,000 riel, which is more expensive than imports from Vietnam by 1,000 riel. Even if I lower my price, [Vietnamese importers] can lower their prices as well,” he said.

Chea Sok uses electricity from diesel generators, whereas his Vietnamese competition used electricity off of their national grid. Vietnamese imports also often avoided taxes, he added.

Kuy Sreng, the owner of an ice factory located in Kiri Vong district of Takeo province, said his factory has capacity to sell up to 500 pieces of ice per day, but currently is only able to sell around 80.

The factory had previously employed up to seven workers, but has since been reduced to one employee since Vietnamese imports began to pick up about a year ago, he said, adding the factory would close if imports of ice continued.

Government officials said they were aware of the complaints, but added that action would be difficult.

Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy Secretary of State Ith Braing said they had sent a letter to other government institutions asking them to look into the matter.

The ministry has no right to simply ban imports, but was paying close attention to concerns of ice producers located near the border, he said.

But ice importers say they are simply providing cheaper product for local consumption.

Huy Heang, director of Huy Heang Ice Company, which imports ice from Vietnam for sale in Takeo, said that his company had received legal permission to proceed from Takeo provincial authorities. He added that his products were inspected by the Ministry of Commerce’s Camcontrol department, and paid taxes on arriving.

“I sell [ice] at cheap prices to meet people’s demands,” he said, adding his firm held a ten year licence to import ice granted by provincial authorities.

Takeo Provincial Governor Srey Ben said the province would not ban imports, adding it was the role of Camcontrol and customs officials to make those decisions.

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