The working party approved ad referendum — allowing working party
members until mid-August to comment on the various documents — its report containing a
Cambodia’s commitments under various WTO agreements, along with its
promises on market access for goods and services.
Cambodia is now on target for its membership to be approved by the next
Ministerial Conference, although it can only become a member 30 days
after it has ratified the agreement and informed the WTO. This would
make Cambodia the first least-developed country to join the WTO through
the full working party process since the WTO was set up in 1995.
After the adoption of the accession package, H.E. Mr. Cham Prasidh,
Minister of Commerce and Chief Negotiator for Cambodia, said “In a
time of harsh and fierce global competition, the survival of our country
depends on our ability to capture the right opportunities and at the
right time. We believe the entry to the WTO is such a case”.
Cambodia applied to join the WTO in late 1994.
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After last minute negotiations the final package was approved by all
What Cambodia has promised
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Some highlights of the Working Party report:
Cambodia has supplied the working party with detailed information on its
economic, financial and monetary regime, including its objective of
maintaining a convertible currency with an exchange rate based on the
market. The tax system was reformed in January 1997. Details were also
supplied on the investment regime, plans for legislation in a wide range
of areas related to the WTO, and the creation of commercial courts.
The working party took note of Cambodia’s commitments, for example:
State ownership and privatization:
Privatization was carried out during a first phase from 1991 to
mid-1993, and a second phase starting in April 1995. Cambodia will ensure transparency, and keep WTO
informed and also provide periodic reports on other issues related to
its economic reform as relevant to its obligations under the WTO.
Pricing policies: From accession, in
the application of price controls, Cambodia will apply price controls in a way that is
consistent with the WTO, and take account of
the interests of exporting WTO members. Cambodia has published a list of goods and services subject to state control.
Trading rights (the right to import and
export): Responding to a comment
that its restrictions on imported pharmaceuticals and veterinary
medicines discriminated in favour of domestic production of similar
products, Cambodia said that no later than 1 June 2005, it would amend
its legislation, and ensure that its laws and regulations are in full
conformity with its WTO obligations.
Other customs duties and charges: Cambodia will ensure these comply with WTO
provisions from the date of accession and will be bound at zero.
Tariff rate quotas, tariff exemptions: Although Cambodia had not
resorted to tariff rate quotas so far, Cambodia would reserve its right
to implement such quotas depending on the outcome of the accession
negotiations. Cambodia confirmed that it would respect WTO disciplines
on tariff rate quotas.
Cambodia said that upon accession to the WTO, any tariff exemptions
would only be implemented in conformity with the relevant WTO
charges for services rendered: All fees and charges for services related to imports and
exports will be used in conformity with the provisions of WTO
agreements, and from the date of accession, Cambodia will not apply,
introduce or reintroduce any fees and charges for services rendered that
were applied to imports on an ad valorem basis.
Application of internal taxes: From the date of accession, Cambodia will
apply its domestic taxes in strict compliance with Article 3 of GATT and in a non-discriminatory manner to imports regardless of country
Quantitative import restrictions, including prohibitions, quotas and
licensing systems: No later than 1 June 2005, Cambodia will eliminate quantitative restrictions on imports
of fertilizers, pesticides and other agricultural inputs and establish a
WTO-consistent method of registration and review of imported
agricultural chemicals. From 1 January 2007 Cambodia would rely on the
provisions of the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement to regulate domestic
and international trade in these items.
accession, Cambodia will not introduce, re-introduce or
apply other non-tariff measures such as licensing, quotas, prohibitions,
bans and other restrictions having equivalent effect that could not be
justified under the provisions of the WTO Agreements.
Customs valuation: Cambodia will fully
implement the Customs Valuation Agreement from 1 January 2009.
origin: Cambodia will
comply fully with the provisions of the WTO Rules of Origin Agreement
by 1 January 2005, parts by 1 January 2004.
Other customs formalities: A dispute settlement mechanism within the
Cambodian Customs Service to handle complaints about customs practices
from traders and governments will be established before 1 January 2005.
Preshipment inspection: From accession the Cambodian government will
take full responsibility to ensure that the operations of the preshipment inspection companies retained by Cambodia meet the
requirements of the WTO agreements. Cambodia’s preshipment inspection
regime will be temporary and will cease when the Customs and Excise
Department is able to carry out the functions currently performed by
preshipment inspection service providers.
Anti-dumping, countervailing duties,
safeguard regimes: Cambodia will
not apply any anti-dumping, countervailing or safeguard measure until it
has notified and implemented appropriate laws and regulations conforming
with the WTO agreements. After that, Cambodia will also only apply any
anti-dumping duties, countervailing duties and safeguard measures in
full conformity with the relevant WTO provisions.
Export restrictions: Cambodia restricts exports of rice; round logs,
unprocessed timber and forestry products; antiques more than 100 years
old; narcotic drugs and poisons; weapons, explosives and ammunition; and
vehicles and machinery for military purposes. From the date of
accession, Cambodia will ensure that restrictions comply with WTO
subsidies: Cambodia will
comply with the Subsidies Agreement from accession. It will either
eliminate the existing system of remission of import fees and waiver of
duty for certain goods used by certain investors, or establish a
functioning duty drawback system consistent with WTO provisions, through
amendment of the Law on Investment, as necessary, by the end of 2013.
policy, including subsidies: These subsidies to be notified
from the date of accession.
and certification: Cambodia will gradually implement the Technical Barriers
to Trade Agreement. Full implementation will start from 1 January 2007
without recourse to any further transitional period.
Sanitary and phytosanitary measures: Cambodia will gradually implement
the SPS Agreement, with full implementation by 1 January 2008. Cambodia
will consult with WTO Members upon request if they deemed that any
measures applied during the transition period affected their trade
Trade-related investment measures (TRIMs): Cambodia will not maintain any measures inconsistent with the
TRIMs Agreement and will apply the TRIMs Agreement from the date of
accession without recourse to any transitional period.
State trading entities: Cambodia will apply its laws and regulations
governing the trading activities of state-owned enterprises in full
conformity with the provisions of the WTO Agreement.
Free zones, special economic areas: Free zones or special economic
areas, including special promotion zones established in accordance with
the Law on Investment, will be fully subject to the coverage of WTO
Agreements and its commitments in its Protocol of Accession to the WTO
Agreement. Cambodia will ensure enforcement of its WTO obligations in
those zones or areas. In addition, from the date of accession goods
produced in these zones or areas under tax and tariff provisions that
exempt imports and imported inputs from tariffs and certain taxes will
be subject to normal customs formalities when entering the rest of
Cambodia, including the application of tariffs and taxes.
Transit: Cambodia will apply any laws, regulations and practices
governing transit operations and would act in full conformity with the
provisions of the WTO agreements.
Agricultural policies: Cambodia binds its agricultural export subsidies at zero, and
will not maintain or apply any export subsidies for agricultural
regime: Textiles and
clothing import quotas that other members apply to imports from Cambodia
will have growth rates applied as provided for in the Agreement on
Textiles and Clothing shall be applied, from the date of Cambodia’s
accession. These growth rates will end when the Agreement on Textiles
and Clothing terminates (in 2005).
Trade-related intellectual property rights
(TRIPS): Cambodia will apply
the TRIPS Agreement no later than 1 January 2007, with some protection
provided in the interim.
Transparency: From the
date of accession, all laws and regulations will be published according
to WTO requirements, and on a website from 1 January 2004.
Regional trade agreements: Cambodia’s only regional trade agreement is
within ASEAN (the ASEAN Free Trade Area). In this, Cambodia will
gradually eliminate tariffs on essentially all ASEAN products by 2015.
Details will be notified to the WTO.
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Ministerial Conference at Cancún approves the package, Cambodia would
then have to ratify the agreement and inform the WTO. It will become a
full member 30 days later.
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Working party members: Australia, Canada, China, EU, India , Japan, Rep.
Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Panama, Singapore, Chinese Taipei,
Thailand, United States, Venezuela
A. Meloni (Italy)
Cambodia’s Working Party was
established on 21 December 1994. Cambodia submitted a Memorandum on its
Foreign Trade Regime in June 1999. Replies to questions concerning the
Memorandum were circulated in January 2001, the latest revisions and
updates arriving in March 2003. Contacts on market access in goods and
services have taken place on the basis of offers in goods and services.
The 14 November 2002 meeting was the working party’s third. It marked an
advancement of the accession process because for the first time members
focused on ideas for a draft Working Party Report and, thereby,
concentrated on agreeing Cambodia’s terms of entry.
The 16 April 2003 meeting was the first to consider the report. And the
final revision was circulated at the last working party meeting.