Local firms must have a clear understanding of phytosanitary regulation if they wish to increase shipments abroad, experts stressed during a workshop organised by Germany’s GIZ last week.
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Phytosanitary inspections help prevent pests and ensure the products are safe to eat, said Heng Chhun Hy, deputy director of the phytosanitary department.
He was speaking on Friday at an event that brought together exporters, importers, business associations, and representatives of agricultural communities to learn more about phytosanitary regulation and processes.
Mr Chhun Hy said businesses in the sector must keep up-to-date with the latest developments on phytosanitary regulation and procedures so that their products are not held at the border.
“We must follow all requirements in terms of phytosanitary procedures or our products will not be able to enter foreign markets legally,” he said.
The event was organised as part of GIZ’s Facilitating Trade for Agriculture Goods in Asean (FTAG) programme, which focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables – particularly mango, longan, lychee, dragon fruit, banana, and chili peppers – in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Running from 2017 to 2019 with a budget of $1million, the programme aims to provide an overview of the current trade situation as well as identify potential obstacles and gaps. It also issues recommendations to promote trade among the three beneficiaries.
GIZ supports the work of the general directorate of agriculture by building infrastructure and providing training, said GIZ senior advisor Claudius Bredehoft.
“We have organised discussions among the three countries so that they can raise their concerns and streamline trade,” he said.
With different procedures to follow in each country, Mr Bredehoft said Cambodia is in need of more trained inspectors if it wants to start exporting new agricultural goods. He noted that, on average, it takes two to five years (and sometimes as long as seven) to begin exporting a new product abroad.
During the workshop, general directorate of agriculture officials said there are plans to build five new centres to conduct phytosanitary inspections in the near future, adding that the projects have already been sent to the Ministry of Economy and Finance for approval.
Cambodia began negotiating with Thai authorities in 2015 on mango shipments, with the two countries eventually signing a protocol on phytosanitary requirements.
With Vietnam, negotiations began in January 2017 and six months later a protocol on phytosanitary requirements was signed for banana and dragon fruit.