Government officials met with entrepreneurs and university students yesterday to discuss the importance of expanding export potential for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) ahead of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) integration in 2015.
Suy Dimanch, director of Small and Medium Industry and Handicraft at the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Energy, said that the workshop on “Cambodia Awareness Raising on Aid for Trade for SMEs” aimed to help the Kingdom’s SMEs understand the processes for exporting Cambodian goods.
He said that majority of Cambodian SMEs understand very little about the means of exporting or enhancing quality for export.
“We organized the workshop to inform SMEs about the needs of export markets. Legal procedure is one thing and another thing is quality,” he said, adding that “in order to grow our economy in the region, we need to compete in markets selling our goods,” he said.
Dimanch said that as AEC integration approaches in 2015, the production of quality goods becomes a must if Cambodian SMEs are to compete within the region.
“Reaching this time, most of our SME owners don’t know yet how to export and they don’t know what the markets need,” he said, adding that “we tell them to prepare themselves so when the time arrives they already know.”
Twenty-one-year-old Trenh Bunleang, a son of the owners of Bayon Bakery, said that he participated in the workshop hoping to learn more about the export potential of his family’s goods. He said his parents’ 12 bakery shops produce many kinds of Cambodian food products.
“This workshop is not just important for me, but it is important for the whole bakery because it will provide me with skills,” he said.
He said that he learnt that competition will be greater when the ASEAN Economic Community arrives at the end of 2015, and enhancing the quality of products is an important way to compete with other producers.
“To compete with other foreign goods, we depend on the quality of goods and the hygiene of our food,” he said, adding that “we also need to know about the market demand.”
Phork Sovannarith, a secretary of state for the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Energy, said that Cambodian SMEs make up 99 per cent of businesses across the country, but those enterprises had not yet become a support for large-scale companies.
He said that Cambodia had around 500,000 SMEs across the country with 1.6 million employees and that SMEs generated at least $120 million per year for the economy.