Perspectives: Responsible and Inclusive Business, H.E. Penn Sovicheat, Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Commerce

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The Ministry of Commerce plays a key role in identifying both local and international markets for vendors and persons who are doing business and investing in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Cambodia integrated regional and global economies when it became a member of ASEAN in 1999 and the World Trade Organization in 2004. Partnering with other countries in the region and beyond, such as China and the EU, is also part of the effort to expand markets and strengthen business.

For the Ministry of Commerce, responsible business focuses on the following:

The first is to improve business productivity, production and streamlining to strengthen business practices and competitiveness with other countries. All services—product origin certification, brand registration, company registration and legal origin certification—are processed online to facilitate coordination between businesspersons and the ministry. In this regard, the ministry has also drafted several laws including a consumer protection law, a competition law and an e-commerce law.

The second is that the ministry has been involved with “Better Factories” since 2000, which focuses on the well-being of garment factory workers. In this project, the Ministry of Commerce plays an important role in enhancing the atmosphere of the garment industry by linking this program notably with past successful markets.

The third is the Accelerated Inclusive Market Access for Smallholders (AIMS) initiative which promotes market access for smallholder farmers by focusing on enhancing the value chain that opens opportunities for farmers and small entrepreneurs. Female entrepreneurs can join the program and attract other partners who want to invest in the value chain and thus gain the opportunity to link their production to the market. The project was remarkably successful with a rating of four out of six. The ministry is continuing the project and hopes it will benefit more small- and medium-sized farmers with the goal of ‘one farmer, one trader.’ At the same time, the ministry has a Private Sector Development Department to train potential entrepreneurs, form business alliances and work with the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce for a better approach to entrepreneurship and private sector business.