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Rattan Association of Cambodia becomes member of World Fair Trade Organization

19 September 2011

After a long and rigorous application process, the Rattan Association of Cambodia (RAC) was recently accepted on the board of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), which represents the entire fair trade chain from production to sale. As a provisional member of this global fair trade body, the RAC supports the promotion of sustainable and standardized rattan products in international markets.

The RAC joins about 400 other worldwide members from 71 countries who are dedicated to the fair trade movement. They are producer co-operatives, associations, export marketing companies, importers, fair trade shops, local, national and regional fair trade networks and financial institutions.

Mr. Lip Cheang, Chairman of the RAC and owner of the biggest rattan enterprise in Cambodia, says that establishing a network and working relations in the global market through such a large international network as the WFTO is very important since it will help improve the knowledge and perspectives of Cambodian producers about the fair trade market, and will provide them access to information about market development, supply and demand.

“Cambodian rattan producers of the RAC are happy with this development because they will be able to benefit from this growing network in promoting their products and establishing contacts with buyers in the global market. For instance they can link up with other WFTO members and trade partners through the WFTO network website, events and meetings,” he added.

In collaboration with WWF and other government and non-governmental partners, the RAC is implementing a Sustainable Rattan Project (co-financed by the European Union and IKEA), which aims to manage the tropical forests where rattan grows and promoting environment-friendly processing practices (cleaner production). This approach includes minimizing material and energy flows, minimizing waste and water contamination, and reducing emissions to the greatest extent possible. Linking Cambodian rattan companies to the global market is one of the rattan project’s main objectives.

Mr. Ou Ratanak, WWF’s Rattan Project Manager, says Cambodian rattan producers are now able to inform international buyers about their commitment to sustainable production systems and that they have the capacity to produce clean goods with diversified product designs.

“This is a great opportunity for the RAC to set-up long-term relationships with responsible buyers and traders since it will add value to the whole rattan production chain, encouraging community-based forests and biodiversity protection, and contributing to enhancing the development of the rattan industry of Cambodia.”

Mr. Men Sinoeun, Executive Director of Artisans Association of Cambodia, who helped the Rattan Association with its WFTO membership registration, says that it is not easy to be registered as a member of WFTO and that the organizations that apply need to meet stringent membership criteria. For example the organization must comply with WFTO’s membership requirements for a clean, green and safe working environment.

Following the completion of its two-year provisional membership, the RAC will have to conduct a self-assessment against the standards for Fair Trade Organizations in order to become a full registered member of this international organization.

See references to the RAC on the WFTO website