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An exhibitor displays Thai-manufactured footwear at a trade fair in Phnom Penh yesterday.
An exhibitor displays Thai-manufactured footwear at a trade fair in Phnom Penh yesterday. Pha Lina

Thai firms look to boost trade

Thailand – one of Cambodia’s biggest trading partners – is holding an exhibition in the capital in a bid to further boost the $5.6 billion in bilateral trade it reported last year.

The four-day trade fair, which runs until Sunday, looks to introduce Cambodian buyers to over 200 Thai brands, ranging from construction materials and machinery spare parts to clothing and cosmetics.

The Thai Commerce Ministry’s international trade promotion department said it organised the event to generate opportunities for companies on both sides of the border.

“Besides boosting trade relations, this is an opportunity for Cambodian investors to look for partners directly from Thailand,” one of the event’s organisers said yesterday.

“Some investors have shown their interest already, but they will contact the Thai counterpart directly.”

“The event is open for the exchange of new ideas and concepts, and to experience good products from Thailand,” the organiser added.

Bilateral trade between the two Southeast Asian countries is skewed heavily in favour of Thailand, which exported $4.9 billion to the Kingdom last year, up 6 per cent.

By contrast, Cambodian exports accounted for only $640 million, a rise of 8.4 per cent.

According to the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, total trade last year increased by 9.4 per cent, up from the $5.1 billion in 2014, with firms like Siam Cement Group, Charoen Pokphand Group (CP) and TCC Group making substantial investments in Cambodia.

Attending the trade fair yesterday, Pornpen Saelim, a project manager at Thai exhibition design and construction specialists Xcon, said her firm was exploring the possibility of a joint venture with a Cambodian firm to sell their computer-aided design (CAD) systems here. She was also on the lookout for innovative design ideas and materials coming out of Cambodia.

“We are presenting some product design upgrades here and most of the products on display have got an award for innovation from Thailand,” she said.

“We want to promote these products here and in other ASEAN countries as well.”

Pornpen added that with regards to design and construction, imports from Cambodia would improve once the country improved its skilled labour capacity and design creativity.

Natthapat Thanaphoson, marketing and public relations director at Achilles Architecture and Supply, a Bangkok-based supplier of corrugated roof sheets and floor tiles, said the booming Cambodian housing market and growing industrial sector provided ample opportunities for his company to export its products here.

“Our product is suitable for building homes and factories and as Cambodia’s market develops there will be a need for these products,” he said.

“As of now, we are looking for a partner to distribute locally and there are many people who have shown interest.”

Natthapat said the price of his products was reasonable for the quality they provided, and the company was conducting local market research on how best to promote their product in Cambodia.

“The floor tile and corrugated roof sheets cost around $15 a sheet in Thailand, but the price in Cambodia could be higher, due to the import taxes and logistics cost,” he said.

The annual Thailand Trade Fair 2015 is being held at the Koh Pich Convention and Exhibition Center on Diamond Island.

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