December 29, 2021
Cambodia has largely avoided the recent turmoil in global trade linked to Beijing’s strict zero-Covid policy, which has left a fair share of China-bound merchandise from the Kingdom’s neighbours stuck in congestion, causing untold losses for involved companies, industry players have said.
Last week, Chinese authorities locked down several cities due to Covid-19 outbreaks, reportedly driven by the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, and recorded more cases of the Omicron mutation.
Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) president Sin Chanthy told The Post on December 28 that a significant portion of exports to the Chinese market from some countries had been severely damaged or spoiled due to the heavy congestion plaguing points of entry into China.
“Cambodia still exports frequently without much in the way of bottlenecks or damage to products,” he said, cautioning exporters to thoroughly inspect goods and packaging in preparation for the possibility of tightened restrictions.
Hun Lak, CEO of Tropicam Fruit and Vegetable Co Ltd, which exports agricultural produce to China, said his company’s shipments had yet to face any major issues, noting that much of the congestion was concentrated along the Sino-Vietnamese border.
He claimed that Beijing’s tightened Covid controls come in response to the detection of the novel coronavirus on packaging boxes at border checkpoints with Mongolia.
“China has no qualms about implementing these measures because it has to protect the wellbeing of its people. As a consequence, before exporting to China, exporters must comply with the requirements of the country.
“In general, the requirements in the protocol allowing Cambodian agricultural products to be brought into China, to which we have to adhere, concern sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
“During the pandemic era, the Chinese side has required us to spray disinfectants against Covid-19 on packaging boxes and shipping containers. We have to pay extra for this to ensure that our goods are free of Covid-19,” Lak said.
The CLA’s Chanthy underscored that the cost of freight transport from Cambodia to the region had moderated slightly, but that rates to Europe and the US were still quite high.
Domestic transport rates, meanwhile, have remained relatively stable since mid-November, despite rising fuel prices, he said.