The Cambodian logistics industry is growing in reply to an expanding global export and import market share. Mrs Lam Bui, Country Manager of Maersk Line Cambodia, and Mr Frederic Chan, Country Manager of Cargoteam SL Cambodia, attest that in support of this growth, the standard of transportations’ service and infrastructure in Cambodia is moving closer to international standards of practice.
Cambodia’s strongest export industry; garments, footwear and agricultural products for the European market; shows steady growth. In 2012-2013 there was approximately 20% growth in containerized long haul exports from Cambodia to Europe and USA, and it is estimated 8% growth will continue in this area in 2014. In terms of imports, Cambodia is seeing a continued increase in the import of construction materials from inter-Asia, and naturally the inputs for the garment industry.
Lam predicts that, “Under the European Union’s “Everything but Arms (EBA)” agreement, garment, footwear and agriculture production will continue to grow in 2015. Cambodia remains one of the world most competitive sources of these commodities, and it seems unlikely for demand to halt.”
Chinese trade is on the rise, assisted by low customs levies and a booming Chinese market. The ASEAN integration will only assist this, says Chan.
The Cambodian transports industry is replying to this growth. Not only is the scale of Cambodia’s transport capabilities increasing but also the standard of service.
Chan comments that customs clearance is moving toward an International standard, and staff working at border authorities are increasingly being educated to international levels of expertise. Levels of policing of breaches are increasing greatly and internal corruption is being targeted and eliminated, specifically and structurally.
This is only a natural evolution, says Chan: “If Cambodia doesn’t move to these standards, they simply won’t get as many large international companies coming through their borders.”
Lam notes that while all export-import customs clearance documentation is currently paper hard copy only, the industry has been informed of a move to a fully electronic system in the near future. This will increase transparency, save time and money for importers and exporters, and represent an International standardization.
Lam comments that Maersk Line, Cambodia’s largest shipping company, has seen positive improvements at the country’s largest capacity port in Sihanoukville. There are visible efforts and initiatives in improving the infrastructure and port productivity. More standardised processes are also being implemented to assist the needs of key Cambodian industries.
Chan notes a new private port has opened in Sihanoukville also, catering mainly to small size cargo within the SEA region. The port has a very high quality of service and fast customs clearance. The PP Port has also been refurbished recently and is seeing increases in the speed and predictability of service.
Chan concludes positively: “Cambodia can learn from logistics examples in neighbouring countries. But, with the right direction and core of companies passionate about Cambodia’s future, the country has a unique opportunity to be better than any of those other transport systems in the future.”