Japan has turned to online promotions to maintain bilateral trade momentum with Cambodia as commerce exchanges slumped due to measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Virtual trade fairs and the sharing of information electronically are just some of the enterprising initiatives taken up by the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro), which has offices in Phnom Penh.
With the coronavirus outbreak putting the brakes on economic and social activities across the globe – with restrictions on international travel, lockdowns and social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus – trade between the two nations has also been disrupted.
According to Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce, imports declined 33.9 percent while exports dropped 15.8 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019. In total, bilateral trade fell about 23 per cent last year compared to 2019.
“While we are in a severe and uncertain situation, a survey by JETRO conducted last September shows that Cambodia has the fastest recovery rates from Covid-19 in the Asean region.
“At this moment, we are striving to increase trade through online promotions,”said JETRO’s chief representative for Phnom Penh Marisa Haruta.
To kick-start this year, Jetro hosted the “Good Goods Japan 2021” – an online business-matching event from February 3-4 to introduce Japanese products such as beauty products, kitchen appliances and baby products.
“Some 22 Japanese companies showcased 80 products during the online fair, which linked Japanese suppliers with potential Cambodian buyers.
“While JETRO has been facilitating this kind of event for more than 10 years in other countries, this was the first time for us to hold one in Cambodia.
“By having linked Japanese suppliers with Cambodian buyers and conducted business matching online to connect Cambodian and Japanese businessmen, the event will have been of great benefit to the business communities in both countries.
“This had the aim of increasing trade volume by getting high quality products into the Cambodian market,” Haruta said.
Every year prior to Covid-19, JETRO’s Phnom Penh office has cooperated with the Council for the Development of Cambodia to organise the “Cambodian Investment Seminar” in Japan.
This is to share information about the strong investment environment and potential investment opportunities in Cambodia to Japanese businesses looking to invest in the Kingdom.
“However, due to Covid-19, some plans have been postponed. We are waiting for the new investment law in Cambodia to be issued so that we will be able to promote Cambodia even more.
“Moreover, JETRO Phnom Penh is still sharing information on the Cambodian investment climate online for Japanese investors to use while considering investing and growing their business here.
“With a spirit to work even more closely with the Ministry of Commerce, the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce and the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia, we expect more programmes and projects will present themselves in the near future.
“We cannot increase trade without strong cooperation from our partners. We need to work together to further build business,” said Haruta.
JETRO conducted over 15 online promotions last year to promote food, agriculture, digitalisation, animation and disaster prevention, among others.