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Cambodia ready to implement UN agreement on paperless trade: gov’t

Chhut Bunthoeun / Khmer Times Share:
A mobile crane moves a container inside Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, the country’s only deep-sea port. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The government last week said it is ready to implement a regional agreement on paperless trade signed two years ago.

In August 2017, Cambodia signed the Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific.

Speaking during a meeting last week at Sunway hotel in Phnom Penh, Tekreth Kamrang, secretary of state at Ministry of Commerce, said to implement the agreement the government has started several initiatives that aimed to streamline administrative procedures.

For example, it has adopted the Automated System for Customs Data (Asycuda) and launched the 2019-2023 Cambodia Trade Integration Strategy, Ms Kamrang pointed out.

Asycuda is a computerised system designed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to administer a country’s customs.

Cambodia will next establish a committee for the National Single Window and the E-commerce Law, which is now waiting for approval at the National Assembly, Ms Kamrang said.

The Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific was adopted in May 2016 by 25 Asia-Pacific economies members of the United Nations, following four years of intensive consultations and negotiations.

It is now open to 53 members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

“This framework agreement is helping Cambodia develop its digital economy while promoting efficiency, accountability, and transparency in trade,” Ms Kamrang said.

In a recent statement, UNESCAP said that in order to move forward on trade digitalisation across the region, there is a need to harmonise technical and legal standards that apply to electronic trade data and documents, reduce capacity gaps among countries in the region, enhance collaboration between public and private sectors, and establish a strong intergovernmental platform for coordination mechanisms among countries in the region.

It said the framework agreement is fully dedicated to the digitalisation of trade processes, aiming to enable the exchange and mutual recognition of trade-related data and documents in electronic form among national and sub-regional paperless trade systems.

“Moving from paper to electronic data and information exchange is expected to make international trade easier, more transparent, more efficient and, hence, more inclusive and less taxing on the environment,” UNESCAP said.

Through paperless trade and seamless electronic exchange of trade data and documents, countries can enhance their competitiveness in global markets and increase their participation in global value chains, it said.

According to UNESCAP, enabling cross-border paperless trade together with full digital implementation of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement could decrease trade cost by more than 25 percent, cutting international transaction costs in Asia and the Pacific by about $0.6 trillion annually. The region’s annual exports could expand by about $250 billion.

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