Nov Sivutha | Publication date 05 January 2022 | 22:07 ICT
Cambodia is looking for workarounds to ship cargo to China while avoiding the risks and problems associated with ongoing severe congestion at Sino-Vietnamese land border gates, which has been blamed on Beijing’s response to the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant and its “dynamic zero-Covid” policy.
The Ministry of Commerce and relevant government bodies are closely monitoring the situation and are to report any significant developments, the ministry said in a statement on January 3.
The ministry noted that countries in the region and other parts of the world have begun to introduce new health and travel restrictions and guidelines, prompted by the unfolding circumstances related to Covid-19, especially the latest coronavirus variant of concern – Omicron.
“Imports and exports have been hampered by severe congestion at Vietnam-China border checkpoints, above all in Lang Son and Quang Ninh provinces, mainly due to the Chinese tightening measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, under their ‘zero-Covid’ policy,” it said.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade reported that as of December 21, some 6,000 lorries were still bogged down at land border gates in the two provinces.
It estimated that the cargo processing capacity at major border gates had been reduced by as much as 70-75 per cent, noting that some checkpoints had indefinitely suspended customs clearance.
Moreover, Chinese officials are processing customs procedures for just four-to-eight hours per day at border gates in Lang Son, which link to the Chongzuo area of China’s Guangxi region, Viet Nam News reported, citing the provincial agriculture department.
The statement comes in response to a letter from Vietnam’s trade ministry on the matter, which was sent to the commerce ministry, the latter’s spokesman Pen Sovicheat noted.
He told The Post on January 4 that Cambodian exports to China are largely sent by sea, and have experienced only minimal impact from the congestion, with no business yet to inform the ministry of more significant issues.
Nonetheless, as a precaution, he advised the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, transport and garment associations, and the broader business community to tell people to have construction materials, garment inputs and other goods from China shipped into the Kingdom by air or sea instead.
Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) president Sin Chanthy pointed out that the gridlocks at border crossings have led to the spoilage and damage of a large share of fruits, vegetables and other agricultural produce.
He noted that CLA members and other Cambodian transporters received word of the situation relatively early and managed to avoid major losses.
But Vietnamese businesses have not been so fortunate, he stressed.
“Such congestion results in damage and utter devastation, but we have not sustained heavy losses here in Cambodia,” he said.
Cambodian exporters have become more conscious of their packaging methods since the start of the episode and are taking additional precautions to ensure that Chinese standards are met, according to Chanthy.
On the other hand, he suggested that a considerable portion of Vietnamese goods stuck in border areas could be “substandard” or “not properly inspected” prior to being shipped.
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