Another low-profile sector is beginning to shine in the Kingdom. Cambodia’s liberal policies to woo foreign investors and its stalwart economy is turning the Kingdom into a key international trade exhibition centre in the region.
The country’s premier venue, the Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Center located at Koh Pich, Phnom Penh, hosted 18 major expos in 2017 and 20 last year. At least 24 trade shows are scheduled for this year.
Trade exhibition business is slowly blooming into a sunshine industry in Cambodia.
“Many people are interested in opening their market in Cambodia. They see the economic potentials of Cambodia and 90 per cent of exhibitors are our old clients and they keep coming back because it is profitable,” the convention center’s General Manager Oeung Kean told The Post on Tuesday.
UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, in its 14th edition Trade Fair Industry in Asia annual report released last August said: “Cambodia was the fastest growing small market with net space sold up by 28 per cent, while India was the fastest growing large market, up 11 per cent from 1.07 million to 1.18 million sqm”.
Other Southeast Asian markets that surpassed the regional average was Malaysia (12.1 per cent), the Philippines (eight per cent), Thailand (7.6 per cent) and Singapore (7.5 per cent).
While, Vietnam (seven per cent) and Indonesia (6.7 per cent) posted a growth in line with the regional average, said the UFI report.
Phnom Penh has become a favourite destination for European and Asian trade exhibitors, who promote a wide range of products from heavy machinery, automobile, travel and tourism, construction and property development, to fast moving consumer goods, to name a few.
Strong confidence among the business community on Cambodia’s trade policies, economic prosperity, driven by rapid growth in gross domestic product averaging seven per cent yearly and spurt of urbanisation, which fuels demand for consumer products, from cosmetics, fast-food to electronics, and construction materials, education and healthcare – are pulling in global exhibitors every year.
The Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Center in the capital is ideally located.
Linked with modern infrastructure, such as highways and airports, good air connectivity and availability of hotels and transportation are aiding the exhibition industry to thrive as well.
Both foreign government-led agencies and the private sector are hosting their trade shows – either business-to-business expos or they are open to the general public – to tap new markets.
And, Cambodia remains a top foreign direct investment destination in the region.
The exhibition sector has powerful multiplier effects – especially in developing economies – as it helps to generate jobs, promotes tourism, brings in foreign currencies, links up businesses, and exposes new technologies to small enterprises.
“Exhibitions are important because they generate revenue for Cambodia. It helps tourism as exhibitors need to book hotels and they spend money when visiting places once the exhibition is over, and they pay taxes when they import their products. All these activities help the economy,” added Oeung.
Economic powerhouse like China, next-door neighbours Thailand and Vietnam, all having close trade affiliations with Cambodia, aggressively promote their products to the business sector and consumers – with wave of consumerism sweeping across the Kingdom as people have more disposable income due to better job prospects now.
“The reason for the rise in exhibitions in Cambodia is because many exhibitions are from China and Thailand.
“They host four to five shows per year. China promotes its construction materials because there are lot of property and construction developments going on in Cambodia right now.
“Thailand promotes its consumer products because Cambodians like Thai products. Thai exhibitions are usually held in large scale, at least 200 booths at each show and attracts about 10,000 visitors,” he added.
Last September, the Indonesian Trade and Tourism Promotion hosted its 12th expo at Koh Pich, where about 40 Indonesian companies exhibited their products and services from education, pharmaceutical products, handicrafts to food items.
Later in November, about 100 Indian companies will exhibit their products at the Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Center.
This year real estate, construction, tourism and hospitality, and Information Technology expos are tipped to be major highlights at the convention center.