SOME traders who rented $300 booths at the second Cambodia Trade Fair at Takhmao
stadium expect to receive some benefits, either by signing new contracts with investors
from abroad or by simply selling products to visitors coming for a Khmer New Year
Most of the booths rented for the two-week private sector showcase were by manufacturers
or exporters to exhibit their products available now for sale locally or abroad.
"I hope some foreigners will come to see that Cambodia is able to produce good
items," said one of the manufacturers who took three booths.
"May be it will be the occasion for my company to create some links and find
some new partners to export my knitting production," he added.
Cambodia's emerging clothing industry seemed to dominate the wares on display.
"Garment industry is the most important, after that there is cosmetics and then
beers and food," said Minister of Commerce, Chham Prasidh.
Only 130 of the 264 booths were effectively occupied. Locally produced goods were
much more present than last year.
According to the Chamber of Commerce, which helped organize the fair, ten garment
factories were represented compared to only two which took part in l995.
Mighti Spectra Knitting, based in Hong Kong, is one of the new companies which began
production last October, although last year they had a booth just to make contact
with customers and generate new business links. This time they're seeking to train
new staff and display new products just off the production line.
"This fair is the occasion to show our products and make a test on the customers.
According to their response we will improve the product," said Mighti Spectra
manager Kheng Lay Chhay.
Young girls gathered around the booth, having a look-see at a line of new T-shirts.
The response was positive but the girls left disappointed as there didn't seem much
room to bargain over price as they could in local markets.
In the stadium, most of the visitors who showed up were families coming to have some
fun for Khmer New Year. Serious shopping was not their main concern.
Singers and a merry-go-round entertained the crowds at night.
"I came to have a look at what was going on here. It is a good place for Khmer
New Year. I do not think I will buy anything because it is too expensive for me,"
said Sophea, from Takhmao.
This year, the Ministry of Commerce expects one million people to visit the fair,
compared to roughly 750,000 who showed up in '95.
The Trade Fair was funded by last year's profits, and from the Chamber of Commerce
and corporate donations.
"The Ministry asked us two weeks ago to cover the financial needs to organise
the fair, " said Kong Triv, president of the Cambodia Tobacco Company and vice-president
of the Chamber of Commerce. "Members of the commmittee gave between $500 and
$10,000. Altogether there were 23 sponsors."
From the fair, the Ministry of Commerce expects a lot.
"This is the second one, much bigger than last year," explained Chham Prasidh.
"Cambodians do not yet understand marketing. This is the best way to let them
see what is it," he said.
"It will help local and foreign traders to find opportunities for signing contracts,"
At an oil company booth the expectations were quite different.
"Maybe, we will not have any kind of contract signed here," said a company
representative, as he looked at all the children fresh from school who had gathered
"For us it is a good way to let people know that we are here."
Children received key-rings if they correctly answered an executive's questions.
"We hope that those children will stop at our gas station the next time they
need oil," said the company manager.