Blogger: Mrs. Jaruwan Suwannasat, Director, Exhibition and Events Department of TCEB
The second Cambodia-Thailand Joint Cabinet Retreat took place in Bangkok in August, an event that saw Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his Cambodian counterpart Prime Minister Hun Sen sign several accords aimed at increasing trade, security and tourism, in addition to cooperation in agriculture and labour.
The two leaders are now working to boost bilateral trade to a level three times beyond its current position; or US$15 billion by 2020. But while news that Cambodian exports to Thailand are increasing, there is a need for his country to process its own products, instead of relying on raw material exports. After all, these will lead to higher margins and help to evolve Cambodia’s export profile. “If Cambodia only relies on exporting raw materials, we lose out on potential profits from our resources,” explained Sou Dara, deputy director general of the trade promotion department at Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce.
The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) will certainly play its part, having identified great opportunity for Cambodian visitors at Thailand’s exhibitions and business events. Visitors grew 155 per cent in 2015 from 2014 in terms of total visitors, a number that rises to 355 per cent growth if considering the food and agriculture industry alone; currently the greatest area of interest for Cambodian buyers. Fifty-three per cent of Cambodia’s total visitors attended shows in this industry, followed by automotive (10.74%) and health and wellness (7.88%).
In terms of attendance at specific exhibitions, the top five Thai shows for the Cambodian market are the food and agriculture events VIV Asia, Food Ingredients Asia, Food & Hotel Thailand, as well as RetailEx and FranchisEx ASEAN, TFBO and TRAFS, which when combined welcomed 55 per cent of Cambodia’s total visitors to Thailand in 2015.
We should expect to see more Cambodia visitors at food and agriculture trade shows in 2017, as VIV Asia will be joined by two co-located events Agritechnica Asia and Horti Asia, effectively expanding the event’s spectrum from feed to food producers.
Cambodia is looking to increase its global profile using Thai exhibitions. As Sou Dara, deputy director general of the trade promotion department at Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce, explained following the recent edition of the Thailand Exhibition Trade show: “The presence of Cambodian businesspeople in [trade] exhibitions will help boost the trade volume of both countries.”
And with its connections to trade associations around the world, a successful exhibition partnership with TCEB is poised to take Cambodia further still.