Peppercorn exports to China get green light

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A farmer harvests pepper in Ratanakkiri province in July 2020. POST STAFF

The General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) has given the okay to begin exporting Cambodian peppercorn to Chinese shores, publishing a notice on the pertinent phytosanitary requirements on November 21, according to Beijing’s embassy in Phnom Penh.

The green light comes a couple weeks after the “Protocol of Phytosanitary Requirements for Export of Peppercorns from Cambodia to China” was penned at the Peace Palace on November 9 by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina and GACC head Yu Jianhua at a ceremony presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

 

Addressing the notice in a November 22 statement, the Chinese embassy confirmed that, effective immediately, the importation of Cambodian peppercorn is authorised, granted that consignments thereof meet the outlined requirements, citing the “relevant laws and regulations” of China and those under the Kingdom’s agriculture ministry.

Those phytosanitary requirements can be seen here (Chinese only): www.customs.gov.cn/customs/302249/ 2480148/4690241/index.html

Progress towards the official export of the locally-grown aromatic, piquant spice to China has been met with huge fanfare among the local community, especially those involved with Kampot pepper – the Kingdom’s most highly-prized variety – which is grown in the coastal province of the same name and is the sole cultivar protected under national geographical indication (GI).

Nguon Lay, president of the Kampot Pepper Promotion Association (KPPA), the body in charge of managing this GI, believes that Kampot peppercorn would strongly appeal to the palate of the Chinese gourmand, and hence garner strong demand for this dried variety of fruit from the flowering Piper nigrum vine, considered to be native to the southwestern Indian coast.

Lay drove home this point in a recent interview with The Post, arguing that Kampot pepper is recognised by a host of national and international organisations, and has been certified compliant with the phytosanitary requirements of many jurisdictions, where it is now exported.

“There is no real issue for Kampot pepper exports when it comes to phytosanitary requirements … all [consignments] are subject to quality control by the association and the agriculture ministry, [approval of which is] indicated by phytosanitary certificates.

 

“Cambodian pepper will have a wider market once China officially allows exports,” he enthused.

The per-kilogramme prices for this type of peppercorn have remained the same for several years, at $15 for black, $25 for red and $28 for white, according to Lay.

Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) director Chan Sophal also told The Post recently that official direct exports to China would effectively end Cambodia’s reliance on Vietnam or other nearby countries for bringing its peppercorn to the Chinese market, a relationship he stressed has historically undermined profit margins for local traders.

“With this protocol signed, I hope that the official export of pepper to China happens soon,” he said, adding that Beijing spent “at least two or three years” studying the details of the document.

The agriculture ministry reported that this year’s peppercorn exports reached 7,704.25 tonnes as of October 31, down 72.12 per cent year-on-year from a respectable 27,633.77 tonnes in January-October 2021 – with Vietnam buying the lion’s share at 6,645.78 tonnes or 86.26 per cent.

Similarly, the embassy statement confirmed that, effective immediately, the importation of Cambodian “wild aquatic products” is authorised, granted that consignments thereof meet the inspection, quarantine and veterinary sanitary requirements defined in a separate GACC notice published on November 21, citing the “relevant laws and regulations” of China and those under the Kingdom’s agriculture ministry.

The “Protocol on Inspection, Quarantine and Veterinary Sanitary Requirements for Wild Aquatic Products to be Exported from Cambodia to China” was signed at the same ceremony as the document for peppercorn, on November 9.

Those inspection, quarantine and veterinary sanitary requirements can be seen here (Chinese only): www.customs.gov.cn/customs/302249/ 2480148/ 4690214/index.html