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Trade law opens door for ASEAN

Trade law opens door for ASEAN

Measure seen as step towards lifting agricultural tax barriers

The National Assembly approved a law Tuesday paving the way for the Cambodian government to negotiate with fellow ASEAN countries to lift trade barriers on agricultural products.

Ministry of Economy and Finance Secretary of State Kong Vibol pledged that the ministry would intensify its trade negotiations with member countries following the passage of the ASEAN goods trade law.

"We hope that Cambodia will gain a lot of benefit from this legislation after all ASEAN countries remove tax barriers," he said.

The ministry aims to have removed all tax barriers on products imported from the 10 ASEAN members, aside from 61 strategic products, including pigs, chicken, ducks, cows, horses, meat, vegetables and fruit. These will be taxed at 5 percent.

We hope that Cambodia will gain a lot of benefit from this legislation.

Uy Sambath, director of the ministry's department for economic integration into ASEAN, said the law was a necessary step for Cambodia to become part of a single ASEAN market and production base, as set out in the ASEAN Charter and the Declaration of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint, which was signed by leaders of the ten member countries on November 20, 2007, in Singapore.
The blueprint calls for a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, a region of equitable economic development and a region fully integrated into the global economy.

The AEC calls for a free flow of goods, services, investments and skilled labour, and a freer flow of capital, with equitable economic development and reduced poverty and socioeconomic disparities by 2015.

More work needed
Uy Sambath said the new law was just a starting point. "I think that Cambodia will add more trade preferences into the law so that the cost of its trade with other ASEAN nations will decrease and customs will be able to make transportation of goods easier and faster," he said.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Cambodia already lagged behind its neighbours countries in terms of exports of agricultural products, and that the removal of taxes could make matters worse if the country is not prepared.

"The government must conduct a study to help Cambodian farmers, because in 2018 the Kingdom will remove all tax barriers," he said.

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