Over 100 insiders of the country’s logistics sector – including governmental agencies, logistics associations, consultants, local and international transportation companies, and development partners – convened in Phnom Penh yesterday for the country’s first logistics forum.
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Organised by EuroCham, the forum served as a platform to discuss the most pressing issues facing the transport sector, including the cost and efficiency of freight transportation and e-commerce logistics.
Speaking during the event, Sun Chanthol, the Minister of Public Works and Transport, said input collected during the forum will be put into the upcoming logistics master plan, which will see the light next month.
Mr Chanthol acknowledged that the high costs associated with the local logistics sector is one of the major barriers to the industry’s development, but assured attendants that his ministry, in cooperation with the private sector and development partners, is hard at work to bring down prices.
He said the new master plan will help bring down prices and increase the efficiency of the country’s transportation network.
“We are working with the customs and tax departments, ports and every stakeholder in the sector to eliminate unofficial fees and lower the cost of transportation,” he explained.
Mr Chanthol said that, due to its ideal geographical location, Cambodia has the potential to become a logistics and production hub and an innovation centre in the region, and urged the private sector to do its part in helping the kingdom fulfill this potential.
“Let’s think outside the box,” he said to the audience. “What can we do to not only reduce the cost of transportation, but also make Cambodia into a centre for production, innovation and warehousing to serve neighbouring nations?”
“Think about what can be done to take full advantage of our great location,” he asked attendants.
Sin Chanthy, president of the Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association, told Khmer Times that the main issues putting upward pressure on prices in the sector are unofficial fees, an inefficient road network that prolongs transportation times and a lack of professional companies in the market.
“With the proper infrastructure in place, particularly connecting production centres with airports, we couple triple imports and exports by 2025,” he said.
George Edgar, the European Union’s ambassador to Cambodia, said on average the cost of transportation in the kingdom is two to four times higher than in Europe.
To solve the issue, Cambodia needs more non-stop truck services that do not rely on transloading. Likewise, document submission and payment of customs tariffs must be digitalised.
He also recommended reviewing the functions of the Cambodia Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (CamControl).
If this measures are put into effect, the cost of transporting cargo from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh city could be slashed by more than 33 percent, without any investment in new infrastructure.
“Lower logistics costs means farmers would be able to earn more for their products, while consumers enjoy lower prices,” he said.