The “Made in Thailand” exhibition kicked off in Phnom Penh this week, less than a year after the border dispute at Preah Vihear temple led Thailand to cancel trade fairs in Cambodia.
Exhibitors at the Mondial Center on Monday, which was the second day of the five-day fair, sold everything from pans to stationery and cosmetics, all of it imported from Thailand.
“Business is as good [as] last year,” said Nhem Puthy, general manager for a cosmetics import and export company, a view echoed by other vendors.
The exhibition, which is in its ninth year in Phnom Penh, was organized by the Thai Ministry of Commerce, said Poonsak Khunudom, a trade officer with the Thai Embassy.
“The main purpose is to build the relationship between the ministries of commerce of both countries, and increase the volume of trade,” he said in a telephone interview Monday.
The number of booths at the “Made in Thailand” trade fair dropped this year to 214 from about 270, said Poonsak Khunudom, who added that this was within the range of 200 to 270 booths seen during previous exhibitions. He said the Thai government got less space for the fair because of higher rent prices.
Business experts warned at the time that the border dispute at Preah Vihear, which led to clashes in Oct 2008, could hurt Cambodian and Thai trade. But according to Poonsak Khunudom, the volume of trade between Thailand and Cambodia increased to more than $2 billion in 2008 from about $1.8 billion in 2007. Most of the trade, however, between the countries was going from Thailand to Cambodia.
Thon Virak, deputy general director of foreign trade for the Ministry of Commerce, said Cambodia imported about $1.4 billion worth of goods from Thailand in the first 10 months of 2008, while sending about $74 million in exports to its neighbor. He said that he didn’t have data for any of 2009 or the last two months of 2008. Some of the main imports from Thailand include refined oil, motorcycles and sugar, he added.