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US has Cambodia in export sights

CAMBODIA’S improving tourism industry and burgeoning economy are key factors driving the United States to ramp up the marketing of its agricultural goods in the Kingdom, US officials said yesterday.

Michael Riedel, agricultural attaché of the US department of agriculture’s foreign agricultural service, said he was optimistic about Cambodia’s prospects as a market for US agricultural and consumer-oriented food products.

“Cambodia is a growing market, and the economy is very strong with the increase of tourism, restaurants, hotels and catering outlets, which is important for US exporters here,” he said on the sidelines of the Kingdom’s first international food and drink trade show, Camfood 2010, at Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich Convention Centre yesterday.

Vietnam-based Riedel cited statistics showing US exports of agricultural products to Cambodia had already doubled this year, rising to $8.1 million in the first seven months of 2010 from around $4 million for the same period last year.

The US’s total exports to the Kingdom reached $91.6 million over the seven months, according to US foreign trade department figures, while Cambodia’s total exports to US were $1.21 billion.

“I am very optimistic our export growth will keep growing this year based on what we’ve seen in terms of growth so far,” he said.

The US pavilion occupied four of the more than 200 booths on display at the trade show, which opened yesterday and ends tomorrow.

Margaret Say, Regional Director of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, was prompted by the show to visit Cambodia for the first time and scope out opportunities for export.

“I thought, it is the first show, so why not take an opportunity to see what the Cambodian market wants and where we might be able to assist.... We could compliment the poultry industry for what you don’t have and/or maybe work together,” she said.

She said the US might be able to help raise local standards, particularly in terms of food safety which she referred to as “very important”.

Riedel said that in order to compete with other countries vying for the Kingdom’s growing market, the US was pitching its wares as higher quality.

“You won’t find a better-quality product anywhere,” he said. “While other countries’ products are a cheaper price than us, our product is safe, reliable and high quality.”

Riedel said consumer-ready-food products made up $3 million of the $8.1 million total. He did not know the total amount of Cambodia’s agricultural exports to the US, the main one being rice.

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