The Cambodia Restaurant Association (CRA) launched the Regulatory Compliance Handbook in Q1 2023 which aims to help businesses looking to set up and already established in Cambodia to make it easier to be legally compliant.
B2B Cambodia spoke with Mr Arnaud Darc – President of the Cambodia Restaurant Association (CRA) and Chairman & CEO of Thalias Hospitality Group at the launch of the handbook. Mr Darc said to those present that the CRA “is dedicated to supporting its members by offering valuable resources to grow their own restaurant ventures. We aim to improve the competitiveness and quality standards in this industry while generating employment opportunities in this industry.”
Other key takeaways of what the CRA offer was:
- The CRA is developing a Diploma program that will be recognised nationally and internationally.
- They work with the Cambodian government to establish guidelines for the industry.
- Offer member representation at the regional and national levels.
H.E Kim Sereiroath (Director of Accommodation, F&B Management – Department of Ministry of Tourism) added that the CRA had done a great job in working with the relevant ministries to collect the relevant information for legally registering in Cambodia and that the Regulatory Compliance Handbook is a valuable resource for businesses in the industry.
Why Release the CRA Regulatory Compliance Handbook?
The President of the CRA told us that the main reason why the CRA released their Regulatory Compliance Handbook was that when he stepped in as the President he could see how many businesses were asking questions and there was no central point of information to direct them to in Cambodia.
He added that during the pandemic, many businesses in the sector were also forced to close and were not registered or partially registered in Cambodia so they could not benefit from support packages that were in place – so this has spurred compliance on as a priority.
The CRA Regulatory Compliance Handbook hopes to make it easier to allow entrepreneurs to formalise their business registrations, and although Mr Darc also acknowledged that the online Single Portal for businesses to register in Cambodia does allow for this to be completed and have enterprises legally recognised in 8 days as per the government guidelines, it sull requires Ministry visits to get businesses completely & officially set up.
By February 2023, as many as 21,000 businesses (with over $6.15 billion capital) have registered with the Online Business Registration platform (Single Portal).
Darc added, “We are seeing more potential members who want to join us as they want to join the formal economy.” He said the CRA also looks at what businesses are doing now and identifies potential gaps that can be closed to help formalise their business application and registration.
What does the CRA do?
Darc told us that there are three main priorities: “We want to create a relationship with all stakeholders and get everyone who has an interest in F&B in the same room. We want one voice via dialogue with the regulator to try and simplify the regulations for people to enter the industry. And we also have a duty to elevate the standards in Food and Beverage in Cambodia by improving the skills and knowledge.”
He added that this includes looking at the modernisation of processes and standards internationally which can be applied in the Kingdom.
F&B Opportunities & Challenges in Cambodia
Darc further added that “more people are health conscious and want quality food rather than quantity, so the opportunity is there when the habit of consumption changes. There are also opportunities in the way customers order and consume F&B (food delivery apps for example).
In terms of challenges, he said: “I mentioned the formalisation of the business is a challenge (it can be complicated) and for entrepreneurs, we try to encourage them to enter the market but legally follow the process and develop their business in a secure manner.”
He added that attracting talent in the industry is another challenge but this is seen across the globe as talents look at all sectors.
“We have seen during the pandemic that talented people shifted to other industries and we need to keep training to a good level the talent. We need to better secure the sector in case there is another major challenge like the pandemic in the future – to have basic protections and laws (such as the lease payments during the pandemic).”