Cambodia Implements ASEAN Standards on Customs
The Cambodian National Assembly approved changes to the country’s customs laws last week, marking another step towards achieving deeper integration within the ASEAN region.
The amendments, which were made in order to comply with ASEAN standards, concern the synchronization of Cambodia’s customs procedures with international standards and the management of customs after the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.
The changes include measures intended to simplify cross-border exchange and facilitate trade between ASEAN countries, such as reducing paperwork, modernizing procedures and increasing human resources. The changes also include stricter clauses regarding the prevention of terrorism and smuggling.
Cambodia signed the new ASEAN Customs Agreement in March 2012. The agreement, which conforms to the standards and recommended practices of the Kyoto Convention, supersedes the 1997 ASEAN Customs Agreement. Additions include clauses regarding the electronic processing of information and the interoperability and interconnectivity of customs systems across the ASEAN region.
“The implementation of ASEAN [standards] on customs will bring new opportunities [to Cambodia], and will strengthen control of imports, exports, crossings, goods trafficking, helping to prevent and combat smuggling and prevent terrorism,” said Cheam Yeap, a senior member of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
The Cambodian Minister for Economy and Finance, Aun Porn Moniroth, also gave his support to the new customs regulations. “I do believe that after the approval, Cambodia will continue to implement and urge integration into the region, which encourages economic growth, increasing revenues and creating jobs for people,” he said.
The ASEAN Customs Agreement supports the establishment of the AEC, which will come into effect on December 31, 2015. The AEC is one of the three pillars of the ASEAN Community, along with the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).
The four main goals of the AEC are to establish 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 will encourage the movement of goods, services, people and capital within ASEAN countries, for example, through ASEAN-wide recognition of professional qualifications and the development of electronic transactions through e-ASEAN. There will also be closer consultation on economic policy.
Of the three kinds of regionalism represented by the ASEAN Community (economic, political-security and socio-cultural), economic regionalism is the most advanced. However, there are increasing concerns that the AEC deadline may not be met. Although the more economically developed countries in the region are already in compliance with new tariff regulations, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam may need more time to prepare themselves for economic reform.
Cambodia needs to address corruption and anti-competitive practices and improve the transparency and reliability of its regulatory systems, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) advised last month.
“Cambodia is doing well with preparations for the AEC because it has always been an open and outward-looking economy, but it needs to catch up with the implementation of ASEAN e-customs, the National Single Window, and the ASEAN Single Window border procedures,” said Jayant Menon, a lead economist at the ADB.
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