Indonesia Eyes Trade Prospects With Cambodia

Dozens of vendors, from multimillion-dollar companies to couples hawking handmade clothing, presented their wares yesterday at the Indonesian Trade and Tourism Promotion 2010, an exhibition designed to increase commerce between Cambodian and its fellow Asean member.

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, reached $202 million in 2009, Commerce Ministry Secretary of State Kem Sithan said during the promotion’s opening ceremony on Thursday at the Diamond Island Exhibition Center.

That figure is relatively low considering Cambodia’s combined trade with Vietnam and Thailand is now climbing toward the $2 billion mark for each country.

But there are signs that ties with Indonesia are growing.

“Trade relations between Cambodia and Indonesia have shown a steady increase, even in times of global financial crisis,” Mr Sithan said, adding that trade between the countries grew 20 percent last year.

By encouraging further commercial cooperation, Mr Sithan said trade volume between the nations would continue to grow.

While most of the businesses at the promotion yesterday were small scale, DCP, an Indonesian-based steel producer, was looking to expand its operations in Cambodia. Alita, DCP’s Cambodian branch, does about $30 million in business annually, said Bambang Koestoyo, DCP’s vice-president director of international business development.

Dwi Harsono, Alita’s managing director, said he is hoping to double the company’s business in Cambodia within a year as the economy recovers from last year’s recession.

“We want to build a factory here,” Mr Koestoyo said. “Maybe next year or the next two years.”

Both Mr Harsono and Mr Koestoyo said they attended the promotion to establish business partnerships and extend the reach of Alita in Cambodia, where it builds telecommunications infrastructure, bridges and radio networks among other things.

Across the hall, David Widjaja and Ir Soenarno of Budi Mukti Industri in central Java presented information on a wide range of small-scale agricultural equipment.

Asked what drew them to the promotion, Mr Widjaja, speaking for Mr Soenarno, said, “He came to look if there was a market here in Cambodia. I think it is growing.”

Mr Widjaja said they were focused on selling equipment related to growing and harvesting rice, corn and cassava.

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