Workshop to Protect Cambodian Business Under the Trade Remedies Law

On May 20, 2010, UC Associate Dean Gina Lopez attended a full-day workshop, “Public-Private Dialogue on Protecting Cambodian Business Under the Trade Remedies Law,” organized by Micro, Small, & Medium Enterprises (MSME) and funded by USAID.

The workshop was held at the Intercontinental Hotel and invited scholars, government officials, legal experts, and business people to check and discuss a commercial anti-dumping law with members of the team drafting the new legislation. According to H.E. Sok Sopheak, Director General of the Ministry of Commerce, the law will play an important role in analyzing and assessing imports that may be problematic for Cambodia’s economy because the foreign products are being sold at “dumping prices” (or extremely low pricing levels that are cheaper than local products), causing the local industries to struggle or completely fail and leaving foreign importers able to supply their products endlessly.

Mr. Curtis Hundley, Chief of Party for USAID’s Cambodia MSME Project, helped create the draft and noted that, in the recent past, Vietnam and Thailand exported large quantities of their products to Cambodia at dumping prices, which has devastated local industries and products.

Workshop participants were divided into six small groups for in-depth conversations, and then each team presented on their thoughts. Ms. Lopez’s group consisted of a representative from Mong Reththy Group, who shared insights on their business of breeding pigs, and another person from Kompong Cham, who started a fish farm in 1996 and discussed several challenges he faces with his business. In particular, he identified the rising cost of both electricity and imported fish feed from Vietnam, as well as lower market prices, as challenges to grow his business and increase productivity. However, he expressed hope that the government could assist small business owners in overcoming these challenges.

The other groups highlighted similar concerns among the participants: high cost of production as a result of importing raw materials, rising cost of electricity, high interest rates at the banks, and a lack of technical skills and knowledge among employees.

Mr. Andrew Stephens, Senior Trade Law Advisor DAI/STAR-Vietnam, presented on two topics, the first on whether trade remedies will help industries and the second, pig imports in Cambodia. Afterwards, participants discussed the challenges of competition from foreign markets and, with help from MSME and USAID trade experts, examined dumping problems in the meat industry using data they collected and analyzed.

The drafting team will use input from the workshop to help them refine the draft on anti-dumping resolutions, while the appropriate authorities from the Ministry of Commerce will consider making recommendations related to potential import taxes and quotas on foreign products. Organizers and participants hope these efforts will lead to more fair and equitable competition for commerce in Cambodia.

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