Cosmetics have become an essential feature of the modern lifestyle led by many consumers in Cambodia. Every day, a wide range of new cosmetic brands, variants, and formats enter the Cambodian market, catering to a growing consumer base. The market generally relies on the import of foreign cosmetic brands, making Cambodia an attractive market for overseas cosmetics companies, but local brands are on the rise as well.
Alongside the significant growth of the cosmetics market in Cambodia, and the Royal Government’s continuing push to increase consumer protection in Cambodia, in 2022, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) issued Prakas No. 0064 on the Requirements for Cosmetic Distribution (the Prakas). The Prakas applies to both locally manufactured and imported cosmetics, and both individual and businesses that trade in cosmetics.
The Prakas aims to regulate cosmetics and cosmetic business activities, to ensure that cosmetics distributed in Cambodia are of good quality and safe for use. The key points contained in the Prakas are summarized below.
Legal Obligations for Trading Cosmetics
Any person trading in cosmetics, including wholesale or retail, and those that offer cosmetics as gifts or for testing, must ensure that the products are safe and meet the legal labelling requirements. Anyone trading cosmetics must respect the Law on Consumer Protection, with the Prakas highlighting key aspects of that law and referring to the applicable penalties under that law.
Online sellers of cosmetics must obtain an additional approval letter (for individuals) or a license (for legal entities) to operate an online business, issued by the MOC. In addition, they require a certificate for providing online services from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.
Interestingly, the Prakas does not refer to the cosmetic business licensing required under regulations issued by the Ministry of Health. As the Prakas does not outright contradict these regulations, we understand they still apply, and businesses must still obtain a cosmetic business license for almost all activities related to the trading of cosmetics.
Labelling Requirements & Information Standards
The Prakas repeats that cosmetics traded on the Cambodian market must have a product registration number from the Ministry of Health and it must be displayed on the label.
The Prakas further highlights that all cosmetics in the Cambodian market must adhere to any existing product labelling regulations, including the information standard provided under the Prakas. The label may not be misleading or deceiving to consumers.
The information that must be included on a cosmetic label—or packaging or leaflet if the product label is too small—is listed in the Prakas as follows:
- name of product;
- function of product;
- instructions for usage;
- ingredients or components;
- country of origin;
- batch number;
- manufacture date;
- expiration date (if the product will expire within 30 months);
- name and address of the company or person responsible for distribution in Cambodia; and
- a warning message related to the product, if necessary.
The items under the information standard must be provided in Khmer language, as required under the Law on Consumer Protection (although the Prakas does not specifically highlight this language requirement).
Most imported cosmetics currently on the market do not meet the language requirement, so it will be interesting to monitor if enforcement will take place against non-Khmer, but otherwise complaint labelling.
Post Compliance Obligations
Traders of cosmetics are required to maintain proper records, including on the origin, quality, and quantity of the products, and information to facilitate the tracing of products. The records must be provided to the competent authorities upon request.
If traders become aware that their cosmetics are found to be of substandard quality, unsafe, or not in compliance with the information standards, they must initiate a recall, in cooperation with the Directorate-General of Consumer Protection Competition and Fraud Repression (CCF).
The CCF may take action against the traders that violate the Prakas and the Law on Consumer Protection, and has the power to actively inspect and investigate the market for compliance.
For more information on legal requirements in relation to cosmetic product business in Cambodia, please contact Tilleke & Gibbins’ Phnom Penh office at [email protected] or +855 23 964 210.