A US$1.6 million World Bank-funded export promotion program launched Tuesday, offering $30,000 grants to companies looking to tap the international market. The Export Market Access Fund (EMAF) runs for 16 months and is aimed at increasing the value and variety of local exports, say organisers.
"The EMAF is crucial for local entrepreneurs to increase their export capacity to tap global markets," said Kem Sithan, a secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce.
He said that Cambodian exports are lagging behind regional competitors and that the government is working to encourage the sector.
Officials say the economy needs to be diversified beyond tourism, garments, construction and agriculture.
The crisis-hit garment sector is especially worrying for the government. "The garment sector is facing significant risks, and government trade promotions will allow 60 percent of workers to keep their jobs," he said.
"The ministry expects that 50 to 60 companies can benefit from the fund." Three companies have already been shortlisted for grants and 10 others are being considered, he said.
Project manager Joshua Morris said that the grants will play an important role in diversifying Cambodia's export base.
"The companies have to pay 50 percent of the cost - for example, if the firm wants us to develop a new marketing website to promote their products to Europe."