The Agriculture Ministry (MAFF) and the German Development Agency GIZ yesterday reviewed non-tariff barriers and improved draft export guidelines for fresh bananas, mangoes and longan to China.
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Florian Miss, program manager of GIZ Support for Economic Cooperation in Sub-regional Initiative in Asia (SCSI), said some small and medium enterprises and others in the private sector were unclear about the process of exporting these products to China.
Mr Miss spoke at a consultation workshop on step-by-step guidelines for exporting fruits to China.
“We are compiling export guidelines for certain agriculture products, particularly, mangoes, longan and fresh bananas which have the most potential to be sustainable and the biggest exports in Cambodia,” he said.
“We will help fostering and developing the capacity of the private sector in Cambodia on the export process to China, which is a big market and trading partner for Cambodia, and to foster public-private dialogue in Cambodia to have better coordination between the private and public sectors.
“We have compiled a step-by-step guideline in the Khmer language.
“We compiled the process on which documents are needed from the Cambodian side and which documents are needed from the Chinese side, who are the contact points, which ministries are involving, the transport and logistic companies involved.
“Basically, we are trying to simplify the export process.”
He said the guidelines were expected to be ready in July.
“The biggest challenges I see now for smallholder farmers and the private sector are the export process and technical barriers.
“We help by boosting and compiling export guidelines and the knowledge of Cambodian small and medium enterprises to clarify export processes to the Chinese market.
“The fruits were jointly identified by Cambodian partners due to their export potential and considerations of sustainability,” Mr Miss said.
GIZ country director Guenter Riethmacher said that since becoming a WTO member in 2004 and being part of Asean as well as the Asean China Free Trade Area, Cambodia has adopted new trade-related policies and undertaken institutional and regulatory reform initiatives.
New standards were introduced and old ones improved but market access to China remained challenging.
“We are here today to tackle these non-tariff barriers and improve export processes to China for Cambodian stakeholders,” Mr Riethmacher said.
Hean Vanhan, director-general of MAFF’s general directorate of agriculture, said that the last protocol that the directorate was negotiating with China was on fresh bananas and mangoes because China banned imports of agriculture products affected by insect pests.
“Our officers are now at China to negotiate on these issues, and we hope to get a good result,” Mr Vanhan said.
“The type of insects that our Chinese counterparts are concerned about do not exist in Cambodia, so even though China has bans or restriction, we can comply with their regulations,” he said.
“To export fresh bananas, mangoes and longan to China easily, we should have phyto-sanitary treatment plants and packaging and irradiation,” Mr Vanhan said.
He encouraged all fresh banana, mango and longan farmers and producers to establish one community so that government officials, particularly from his directorate, can help train them and link them to the market.
Help could come also from financing from MFIs, contract farming with exporters, packaging and treatment plants.
“For every negotiation with China they will do an onsite visit,” Mr Vanhan said. “We have to create the community and link them to packaging and treatment.
“Now, we don’t have a fresh banana community. We have only private companies to invest in fresh banana plantations, however, we have many mango communities,” he said.
Mr Vanhan said Cambodia produced about 10 to 11 million tonnes of keo remeat mangoes per year.
“To compete in the free market, all farmers and producers must boost their productivities and production, make their products commercial, establish communities and register their community,” he said.
He said that Cambodia currently exported about four kind of agriculture products to China while China agreed to give access to more than 8,000 types of Cambodian agriculture products.
According to the GIZ, in 2016, China imported about 887,192 tonnes of fresh bananas (worth $586 million), 3,959 tonnes of mangoes ($18 million), 357,326 tonnes of longan ($276 million) from the Philippines, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, Taiwan, Australia, Peru and Ecuador.