Understanding Cambodia’s export VAT and tax system

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Cambodia's export market has witnessed a remarkable surge in recent years. In 2022 alone, the nation exported goods valued at approximately US$22.47 billion, as highlighted by Statista data. This booming trajectory underscores Cambodia as a significant player in the international trade arena. For businesses looking to tap into this lucrative market, navigating the intricacies of the Cambodian export taxation system becomes paramount. 

Getting a grasp on this framework not only ensures compliance but also positions businesses to optimise benefits and streamline their international shipping endeavours.

Cambodian government bodies responsible for export regulation and taxation

There are key Cambodian governmental entities that shape the tax regulations and framework. These authorities not only define the rules of the game but also ensure that businesses maintain compliance while optimising their export potential.

General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE)

The GDCE stands as the primary regulatory body overseeing Cambodia's exports and associated taxation. It's responsible for ensuring that businesses comply with customs regulations, processing export declarations, and collecting relevant taxes and duties. The department plays a crucial role in facilitating smooth international shipping by setting clear guidelines and ensuring efficient customs clearance.

Ministry of Commerce (MOC)

The MOC is integral to Cambodia's trade dynamics, primarily focusing on export licensing. Businesses looking to export goods out of Cambodia need to acquire necessary licences and permits from the MOC. Furthermore, the ministry is instrumental in shaping trade policies, negotiating trade and commerce agreements, and promoting Cambodian products in the global market.

Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF)

The MEF takes the helm when it comes to the financial aspects of exports and shaping Cambodia’s taxation policies. It defines the export tax rates, evaluates potential tax incentives for businesses, and ensures that the country's economic interests align with its export strategies. The ministry's decisions are pivotal for businesses to understand the fiscal implications of their overseas shipping activities.

What is the export tax in Cambodia?

Cambodia levies an export tax on various goods departing its borders, with rates fluctuating between 0% to a substantial 50%, contingent upon the category of the item in question. Additionally, it's pivotal to understand Value Added Tax (VAT) in the context of exports. 

In Cambodia, exported goods are generally VAT-exempt, meaning businesses aren't charged the standard VAT rate on exports. This tax relief encourages exporters, making international shipping more cost-effective and boosting the nation's competitive edge in the global marketplace.

Tax incentives and exemptions for Cambodian businesses shipping abroad

Cambodia's commitment to promoting its export industry is reflected in the diverse range of tax incentives and exemptions offered to businesses involved in export activities. These incentives not only drive international trade but also invite investments into the nation.

1. Qualified Investment Project (QIP)

To gain QIP status, registration with the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) or Provincial-Municipal Investment Sub-Committee (PMIS) is mandatory. You will then receive a Final Registration Certificate (FRC). There are many categories for QIP, but those which would be relevant to Cambodian exporters are:

Export-Oriented QIP

The Export-Oriented QIP sells or transfers a portion of its products to an entity outside Cambodia. The benefits encompass exemptions from customs duties on imported production equipment, construction materials, and production inputs. However, there's an imperative clause for those under the customs-bounded warehouse mechanism: the customs duty exemption must align with existing laws governing this mechanism. Any processed production inputs not exported out of Cambodia are subjected to customs duties and taxes post a quarterly report assessment.

Supporting Industry QIP

The Supporting Industry QIP supplies its entire product range to Export-Oriented QIPs as a substitute for imported raw materials and accessories. They, too, are granted exemptions from customs duties on imports. If there's a failure to adhere to the 100% supply rule or if products aren't directly exported, the QIP’s used production inputs for those goods will be taxed after a quarterly review.

2. Special Economic Zones (SEZs)

Cambodia is proud of its 39 Special Economic Zones, a notable one being at the port of Sihanoukville. Businesses within SEZs enjoy the privilege of importing raw materials and production equipment without any import duties. Additionally, they are exempted from VAT for both imports and exports. However, businesses must adhere to additional documentation requisites when operating within SEZs.

3. Free trade agreements (FTA)

Cambodia's strategic alignment with the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) and its membership in five regional FTAs, including partnerships with nations such as Australia, China, India, Japan, and Korea, leverages its export potential. To tap into these FTA benefits, one must secure a certificate of origin for their commodities from the Export-Import Department.

4. Industry-specific exemptions from VAT

As noted earlier, the Cambodian tax system categorises exported goods and services rendered outside its territory as zero-rated. A noteworthy feature is the 0% VAT applied to industries or contractors supplying goods or services directly to certain export-oriented sectors such as textile and footwear, as well as rice production services. This initiative bolsters the nation's competency in these sectors on the global stage.

How DHL Express can help

Navigating Cambodia's expanding export market demands an expert hand. With our deep-rooted logistical expertise in Cambodia and over 220 locations around the world, we can provide exporters with a competitive edge. Leverage our holistic shipping services, so you can accurately handle documentation, decipher tax rates, and guarantee timely and swift deliveries. The intricacies of the Cambodian export taxation system can be challenging, but understanding them is crucial for international success. With DHL Express at your helm, you're equipped for a seamless export journey.