The Ministry of Commerce launched a food laboratory yesterday in the north-western town of Poipet in order to ensure food safety, particularly of goods crossing the nearby border with Thailand.
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It came as both governments pledged to boost trade between the two countries to $15 billion by 2020.
Commerce Minister Pan Sarasak said at the inauguration of the small-lab building that the lab would analyse food and commodities at the border checkpoint and markets to protect the welfare of citizens and their economic interests through facilitation of trade and management of risks.
“As we all know, food safety is a concern of Cambodians and people all over the world, even in advanced nations such as the United States,” he said.
“It has become a priority target, requiring effective measures,”
“So far, the government has laid down the policy to enforce the laws on the management of the quality and safety of products and services as well as to prevent unfair competition and distribution of counterfeit products,”
“We do encourage traders and producers to operate fairly and protect people’s interests as consumers of goods or services, specifically to prevent imports of goods which caused serious harm to the health and environment,” he said.
Vongsey Vissoth, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said previously that Cambodia had spent millions of dollars every year importing vegetables from neighbouring countries.
He said that government laid out a $20 million Boost Food Production Project to set up zones for growing vegetables and other crops to supply the market and curb imports.
The project was being carried out in Kandal, Battambang, Pursat, Prey Veng, Kampong Cham, Tboung Khmum, Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provinces.
According to research by the Centre for Policy Studies, 200 to 400 tonnes of vegetables are imported daily from neighbouring countries.
The research found that between $150 million and $250 million is spent annually on vegetable imports from Vietnam, Thailand and China.
Mr Panasorasak said the Ministry had built three small laboratory projects since 2016, when the first was set up in Sihanoukville.
The second was in Svay Rieng and now the third had now been established in Poipet in Banteay Meanchey province.
In 2017, the ministry constructed three more lab buildings, in Kompong Cham, Prey Veng and Takeo provinces.
This year, the ministry will continue to build three more at Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, Preah Vihear and Boeung Trakoun checkpoint of Banteay Meanchey.
Mr Panasorasak said yesterday: “This small lab helps to facilitate trade by providing a timely check and analysis service without sending samples to the Camcontrol General Department in Phnom Penh, which takes at least one to two days,”
“At the same time, it can prevent import of foods that are banned or of poor quality in a timely way, and can do analysis at the same time,”
“This can allow Camcontrol officials to take immediate action such as removing goods or preventing traffic of good into the market,” he said.