Cambodia Expo 2005 was launched at the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh on Thursday.
The exposition showcases hundreds of locally made products and is intended to attract domestic and foreign buyers and distributors, Ministry of Commerce Secretary of State Sok Siphana said.
“Our objective is to disperse information on all Khmer-made products. [The market] need[s] to know what [goods] we have,” Sok Siphana said at a news conference.
Cambodia imports far more products than it exports, and the government is keen to address the imbalance, Sok Siphana said, adding that Cambodia is ready to export soya milk, palm wine, Angkor beer, cashew nuts, organic rice and clothing products.
“We need to figure out what obstacles [are blocking] domestic products from competing on an international level,” Sok Siphana said.
The government would also lower tax rates for technology-based products to improve those companies’ ability to compete, he added.
One company showcased at the expo is RTC Cambodia. The company—run by Marion Fromm and staffed by 12 disabled employees—produces 20 flavors of gourmet jams sold at supermarkets in Phnom Penh.
“Our production standards meet Australian health requirements,” Fromm said, adding that the company is planning to build a $500,000 factory.
“In 2005 to 2006 we will purchase land and build a purpose-built factory for workers with disabilities somewhere in the provinces,” she said. “We hope to employ 100 land mine victims.”
Banh Leng, president of Cashew Nut Cambodia Co, said his company faced difficulties amassing stock because of Vietnamese buyers who buy cashew nuts illegally at deflated prices in Cambodia.
“I have informed the Commerce Ministry and the governor of Kompong Cham that we should avoid illegal collectors,” Bang Leng said.
His company exported 200 tons of cashew nuts last year, at a price of $950 per ton.
“We can enter [foreign markets] easily, because our cashews are chemical free,” he said.
Among the more original products showcased at the expo are pieces of art and furniture made from weapons parts.
The items are designed by Nong Petpiseth, an artist for the NGO Peace Art Project Cambodia.
“It is difficult to [make them]. It takes us 10 days to finish one type of product,” Nong Petpiseth said.