Representatives of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam gathered yesterday in Phnom Penh to discuss ways of improving trading procedures in Asean, particularly in agricultural goods, as part of a workshop organised by German development agency GIZ.
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Participants identified two priority areas to be addressed during the workshop and in future negotiations: streamlining bureaucratic procedures and harmonising sanitary and phytosanitary standards.
Likewise, attendants decided to focus the debate on just a few types of fruits and vegetables, finally agreeing on mango, longan, lychee, dragon fruit, banana and chili peppers.
“The workshop is a good model to improve the trading process among the three countries. It help us see how each country would like to change the way trade is now conducted,” said Chan Phaloeun, deputy director-general at Cambodia’s general directorate of agriculture. If successful, she added, this multi-party dialogue mechanism might be used elsewhere in Asean.
Ute Dannenmann, fund manager at GIZ’s Trade Policy and Trade Promotion Fund, said the workshop aims to tackle non-tariff barriers to trade.
“We discussed the harmonisation of sanitary and phytosanitary standards, preventing pests and facilitating international trade activities,” Ms Ute said.
“By emphasizing and ensuring food safety and plant health protection measures in the trade process, consumers can also enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables with consistent quality.”
Agricultural exports have increased rapidly in the last five years, going from 3.6 million tonnes in 2013 to 5.1 million in 2017, according to figures from the Cambodian government.
In 2017, Cambodia exported 17 different types of agricultural goods to Thailand, totalling 3 million tonnes. Vietnam, meanwhile, purchased more than one million tonnes of 27 types of agricultural commodities from the kingdom.