Customs officials at Sihanoukville's port want permission to auction off the contents
of 105 unclaimed shipping containers packed with cars, cigarettes and textiles.
The containers have been accumulating since 1999 and goods up for grabs include 100
right-hand-drive vehicles which are prohibited by the Cambodian government, said
Khoy Veng, director of the subcommittee dealing with unclaimed imports at Sihanoukville
Auctioned goods would be subject to public bidding and the money would be paid into
the national budget, Veng said.
Veng said there were two main reasons why goods remained uncollected: the importers
found no demand for the goods on the Cambodian market or they couldn't afford to
pay the required tax.
Customs has been trying to sell the increasing number of unclaimed containers for
the last six years. After the Sihanoukville provincial court was unable to deliver
a ruling, the matter was moved to the Appeals Courts, where a decision is pending.
But Veng said the courts have given customs officials permission to auction 90 percent
of the goods within the other 55 containers.
The next step is for the Council of Ministers to decide on the value of the products
marked for auction before interested companies or individuals can bid. About 80 percent
of the unclaimed goods can still be sold, said Veng. The rest are food products that
have expired or damaged goods.
Shipping containers stored at the port for more than 45 days are fined 0.1 percent
of the total value of the container's goods per day. Once the goods have been collecting
fines for three months, customs can file a complaint to the court to auction the
The Sihanoukville port allows containers to be stored for five days free of charge,
said a port official, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. After that, they also
begin charging the container's owners.
The official said the port authorities will request a share of the auction price
to cover their storage costs.