Cambodian delegation starts trade mission in Indonesia

Banten, Indonesia – A Cambodian business delegation from different industries yesterday started their first trade mission in Indonesia under the aegis of Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Phnom Penh. This is the first trade mission in two years since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the global economy.

The Cambodian delegation started their visit touring the 37th Trade Expo Indonesia in Baten province which was attended by Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Zulkifli Hasan, Minister of Trade. More than 1,000 guests from over 100 countries congregated at the Indonesia Convention Exhibition Centre (ICE).

The opening ceremony started with an Indonesian traditional dance followed by a fashion show at the ICE on Wednesday morning. Various products were displayed at more than 1,000 booths.

In his opening address at the 37th Trade Expo Indonesia, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Indonesia has grown 5.44 percent in the second quarter of 2022 even though the inflation has risen to about 5 percent in the same period, while the country’s central bank Bank Indonesia and municipal-provincial authorities have worked together to control the inflation effectively.

Lauti Nia Astri, Minister Counsellor of Economic Cooperation of the Embassy of Indonesia in Cambodia, told Khmer Times that when the trade mission started the off-line trade mission has not been arranged for two years – 2020 and 2021 – due to the Covid-19 pandemic around the world, while the trade exhibition had still been organised on line.

“We expect the delegations or businesspeople will find what they are looking for as there are many varieties of products here from food & beverage, lifestyle products, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics to everything,” Nia Astri said, adding that it is expected that more than 1,000 buyers from across world such as Egypt, South Africa and Senegal to participate in the exhibition.

Nia Astri added that the Cambodian trade delegation will be guided to visit PT Kino Indonesia Tbk (Kino), which is one of the biggest companies in Indonesia specialised in consumer products from hair care to kid personal care, and they will also enjoy a social-cultural trip along with visiting the newest tourism destination of Indonesia, Jakarta Aquarium & Safari that is spread on more than three hectares of land after they enjoyed the annual trade exhibition of the country.

Tan Yuvaroath, Deputy Director of General Department of Trade Promotion of MoC who has joined the trade mission on behalf of the government in trade, told Khmer Times that he will provide a presentation, information during panel discussions and facilitation between Cambodian businesspeople and Indonesian counterparts as well as others in the rest of the world.

“When they meet me, I will inform them about the potential of doing business and investment in our country and I will also tell them the priority sectors that our government takes much of, which means when they invest in those industries. They will most likely get high returns and also important information like our strong economic growth, population growth, especially young generation and low labour costs,” Yuvaroath said.

Yuvaroath also said that he would provide more official information regarding trade preferences that Cambodia has received from other trading partner countries in the world that would enable them to export goods they produce in the Kingdom to overseas markets with tax preferences. To many foreigners, he will provide necessary information about Cambodian businesspeople who have not attended the trade mission to potential business leaders during the trade exhibition.

“This is a very good opportunity for businesspeople from our country and others to meet one another face to face and see their respective product samples physically. Later on, they can communicate further for more details in the future to reach potential negotiation and business deals as they cannot make decisions immediately. For example, some businesspeople in the country have experience in importing products from this country. Still, they may come to find another new one that could address the demand in our country, while some can come to find opportunities to export their products to this market,” Yuvaroath added.

Yuvaroath went on to say that Indonesia can produce high-quality products such as consumer and personal care products like toothpaste, shampoo and shoes, but its weakness is its geography as this country is an island that requires travel by air unlike our neighbouring countries including Thailand and Vietnam where Cambodian and foreign businesspeople can enter and exit anytime.

However, Srey Sophal, Chairman of a local multi-product distributor AAP Group, told Khmer Times that the geography of Indonesia is favourable for doing business in importing goods from this country to supply in the Cambodia market as tricky businesspeople cannot smuggle the same goods after the initial importers have developed the market successfully for those products.

“I am interested to import products from this country because there are a lot of factories here that I think are good suppliers and it would be much more difficult for other people to get those products by smuggling them to supply in the market. We have already developed successfully as they need to pass through the sea for transportation of the goods,” Sophal.

Sophal, who is the chairman of Angkor Bird Nest and AA Product Pharma Co Ltd, added that he joined the trade mission because he wanted first to find suppliers in Indonesia for his pharmaceuticals business, secondly to find a business partner to develop the market in Indonesia for his truck weigh that is being operated in Cambodia and thirdly to find a partner to develop bird nest facilities in Cambodia to export swiftlet nests to China as there are many Indonesian businesspeople who have much experience in bird nest business development.

“Even though now we are in uncertainties as the global economy has been on the downtrend, we are still optimistic about the economic development, the inflation is not so high now and we have a trade surplus,” Sophal.

According to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) trade volume between Cambodia and Indonesia has grown by 46.4 percent to about $629 million in the first nine months of this year approximately $417 million in the same period of 2021.