The UN Development Programme (UNDP), with support from the Australian government, on December 17 handed over critical protective equipment and sanitation materials to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE).
The move aims to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and facilitate cross-border trade during and after the pandemic, the UNDP said in a press release.
The UN agency identified the equipment as “personal protective gear for frontline officers, along with sanitation materials ranging from infrared thermometers, thermal imaging cameras and sprayer for shipments fumigation”.
It said: “These urgently needed items will be disbursed by the GDCE to its key cross-border checkpoints namely at Poipet, Bavet, Phnom Den and Phnom Penh International Airports Customs and Excise branch.”
The UNDP noted that it has been working with the GDCE since the onset of the pandemic to maintain the Kingdom’s borders open to cross-border trade and to “meet evolving Covid-19 sanitary trade and health and safety measures”.
It said: “This has included the rapid assessment at three mentioned checkpoints and Phnom Penh International Airport Custom and Excise branch on the challenges and constraints hindering the flow of cross-border trading activities, as well as the risks imposing to associated persons working at the borders.
“As the pandemic continues, however, efforts to keep the door open for the flow of commodities and to maintain sanitary conditions for all physical goods to prevent delays and backlogs remain of paramount importance.
“This handover is part of the joint effort by the GDCE, the Australian government and the UNDP to implement the ‘Facilitation of Covid-19 Sanitary Trade and Health and Safety’ project.
“The project contributes towards ensuring sanitary conditions for all physical goods passing through Cambodia’s borders.
GDCE director-general Dr Kun Nhem said: “In addition to the equipment and sanitation materials, the GDCE also benefits from the key measures recommended by the UNDP report for enhancing GDCE’s prevention practices at border checkpoint to manage associated risk and facilitate international trade.
“As in line with the [government’s] response to Covid-19 preventive measures, the protective equipment and sanitation materials provided by UNDP and the Australian government are significantly important and much needed in time of such crisis,” the UNDP quoted him as saying.
UNDP resident representative Nick Beresford said: “Keeping borders open for safe trade activities during the pandemic is essential.
“Beyond a critical Covid-19 response effort, the provision of protective equipment and sanitation materials will also support Cambodia’s ability to build back better and further strengthen its trade relations with neighbouring countries.”
Australian ambassador to Cambodia Pablo Kang said: “Covid-19 has severely disrupted global trade, affecting food security and access to essential supplies.
“Along with providing critical equipment, Australia is supporting the General Department of Customs and Excise to enhance and implement health and sanitary protocols at key borders.
“This helps ensure Cambodia remain safe and open to trade, assisting its economic recovery,” he said, according to the release.