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Cambodia joins the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme

Phnom Penh (Cambodia), 24 August 2016
- His Excellency General Ke Kim Yan, Deputy Prime Minister, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, and Mr. Jeremy Douglas, Regional Representative, on behalf of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), concluded on 24 August 2016 a Memorandum of Understanding on the Container Control Programme formally joining Cambodia with 54 other member states united in their efforts to secure the global containerised supply chain and at the same time to facilitate licit trade and associated economic development.

Cambodia, which was once a country synonymous with conflict and poverty, now has one of the fastest growing economies in ASEAN. The country's gross domestic product has grown by 7 percent or more each year since 2011 and is expected to keep up that pace through 2017, according to the Asian Development Bank's Asian Development Outlook 2016.

Yet, as UNODC have frequently and correctly reported to development partners, it is criminal enterprises that also take advantage of this growth in legitimate commerce to shadow their illicit trade patterns or launder the proceeds of their criminal activities, posing significant risk to the security and health of communities and nations.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) highlights that maritime transport is the backbone of international trade and the global economy. Around 80 per cent of global trade by volume and over 70 per cent of global trade by value are carried by sea and are handled by ports worldwide. These shares are even higher in the case of most developing countries.

Cambodia's only deep water Port is located in in Bay of Kompong Som on the Gulf of Thailand. It is operated and governed by the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS) which is a government agency and state corporation of Cambodia and Sihanoukville. The Port has been expanded steadily and it has now 12 berths equipped with modern cargo handling facilities. Sihanoukville port manages 35 % of Cambodia's total trade volume. It is a gateway for Cambodia and a key strategic location on the ASEAN Southern Economic Corridor.

Cambodia is a country of import, export and transit of various illicit trade items and a country at risk from transnational organised threats such as heroin, opium, synthetic drugs, precursor chemicals, illegal wildlife and timber, weapons and counterfeit goods harmful to health (including falsified medicines).

UNODC estimates the criminal proceeds of trafficking in SE Asia and the Pacific - included those mentioned above as specific to Cambodia - to be at least 100 billion USD per annum. Over 95% of this value relates to items that can be transported within sea containers. Detecting these items in the containerised supply chain could make a significant contribution to disrupting organised criminal activity, facilitating trade, as well as protection or societies and developing economies.

The Global Container Control Programme is a joint programme of UNODC and the World Customs Organisation now operating in 55 countries of the world. The 8 ASEAN countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are included in the SE Asia component of the Programme.