Businessmen Foresee Big Growth in Imports

Adorned with pricey porcelain, Mondial exhibition center this week was no place for bargain shoppers. The exhibit hall has been transformed into a showroom for expensive Chinese-made ceramics, its walls lined with delicate tea sets and corners crowded with giant, gold- and black-vases.

Many of the pieces on display during the exhibition came from the Jiangxi province of China, which is known worldwide for its fine dinnerware and decorative ceramics. Decorative wares from China have long been sought by wealthy Cambodians.

“The best pottery products made in China will sell for thousands of US dollars,” said Xia Zhong Qin, a vendor from Guang Ming Factory who came to Phnom Penh for the exhibition, which ends Friday.

On the opposite end of the economic spectrum, a haven for discount shoppers opened Friday near Phsar Olympic. Vietnamese footwear manufacturer Bihn Tien Imex Corp opened an outlet store to sell its shoes for as little as $1 per pair.

The shoe maker already has 130 retailers in Cambodia, but this is its first store dedicated to selling its own product. Kuy Uy, sales operator for the shoe company, said she hopes to move more than 70,000 pairs of shoes over the next year.

From shoes to ceramics, businessmen say, Cambodians can expect a greater influx of goods as the country moves closer to World Trade Organization membership. Entrance into the WTO would lower trade barriers be­tween member nations.

“We have a lot of goods in China to sell in Cambodia in the future. There will be more Chi­nese goods to come after Cambo­dia enters the WTO,” said Zhang Tian Zhu, general manager of the Cambodian Union Blessing Co, which opened a store last week to sell Chinese-made appliances.

Sok Siphana, secretary of state for Ministry of Commerce, welcomes the foreign-made products into Cambodia.

“Our consumers will benefit from the variety of products available in the marketplace,” he said.

Because Cambodia is a small, developing country it doesn’t have the domestic production capa­city to serve its range of consumer needs, he said. “Cambo­dian products will evolve as the country grows.”

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