by Mao Pengfei, Nguon Sovan
PHNOM PENH, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- The first China International Import Expo (CIIE) will be a "golden opportunity" for Cambodia to promote its potential products to Chinese and international buyers, Cambodian commerce officials and exhibitors said.
The CIIE will be held at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai from Nov. 5 to Nov. 10, and more than 3,000 companies from over 130 countries and regions across the globe will showcase their products and services at the event, which is expected to draw 160,000 domestic and international buyers.
Seang Thay, director general of Cambodian Ministry of Commerce's Trade Promotion General Directorate, said Cambodia has set up a national pavilion and booths at the expo to exhibit the country's potential products.
He said a variety of agricultural products and handicraft such as rice, tapioca, cashew nut, mango, pepper, coffee, and silk will be displayed at the event.
"It will be a golden opportunity for us to find new markets for our products, and we hope that through the expo, there will be broader markets for our products," he told Xinhua. "We want to increase our exports of milled rice and tapioca starch to China and other countries."
The official said currently, China is the top buyer of Cambodian rice, and the Southeast Asian nation is expected to export up to 300,000 tons of milled rice to China this year.
Seang Thay said the expo will also help further enhance trade and investment ties between Cambodia and China in particular and between Cambodia and all participating countries in general.
The CIIE coincides with the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. Seang Thay said China's reform and opening up over the last four decades has not only been good for China itself, but has also benefited all countries around the world.
"The expo also reflects that China is opening its doors wider for businesses with the rest of the world," the official said.
According to Seang Thay, Cambodian Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak will lead a delegation to attend the expo.
Heng Rany, an assistant to Thai Tino, chairman of the Battambang Agro Industry, which will exhibit tapioca starch at the expo, said he hoped to find new potential buyers since his company is going to expand markets abroad.
"We used to promote our tapioca starch in Shanghai a few times in the past, but just in small events," he told Xinhua. "It will be the first time that we attend such a large expo with the participation from many countries and regions around the world, so this will be a great opportunity for us to promote our tapioca starch brand BAIFA to potential buyers."
He said the company operates a tapioca factory in northwestern Battambang province, exporting about 60,000 tons of tapioca starch a year.
"About 40,000 tons of our products have been exported to China a year," he said, adding that the remainder was shipped to Italy and the Netherlands.
Rany said the company has supplied tapioca starch to Chinese companies since 2013. He said in 2013, the company exported about 8,000 tons of tapioca starch to China, and the export volume to China had gradually increased to some 40,000 tons last year.
"Within six years of doing business with China, we have seen remarkable progress in our company, we have more capital for production expansion and have created more jobs for Cambodian people," he said, adding that in 2013, the factory employed only 100 workers, but now the number has increased to 250.
"We hope to find new buyers in the upcoming expo because we want to increase our export of tapioca starch to 60,000 tons a year to the Chinese market in 2019," he said, adding that China's support for economic globalization are "good and give an opportunity to small and poor countries to export their products more to international markets."
Yon Sovann, chief executive officer of Bayon Cereal Co., Ltd, which will showcase his company's fragrant rice branded as Betamore during the upcoming expo, said he is very happy that the company has an opportunity to promote the rice to Chinese and international buyers.
"This will be the first time that our company takes part in an expo in Shanghai," he told Xinhua. "This expo is a good opportunity for Cambodia to expose its potential products to international markets."
He said he has chosen the Chinese market for rice sales because China has the largest population in the world and Chinese people are rich now, so they need high quality and safe rice.
"I hope to find some new buyers in the upcoming Import Expo and expect that my company can export up to 600 tons of fragrant rice to China a year from next year," he said.
Hun Lak, vice president of the Cambodia Rice Federation, said the expo will be a good opportunity for Cambodia to showcase its rice to potential buyers.
"We will promote our rice, especially the premium rice, Jasmine," he told Xinhua, adding that the country's jasmine rice had won the World's Best Rice awards for three consecutive years.
"There will be a large number of visitors to the expo, so I think there will be more buyers of Cambodian rice," he said.
It is expected that rice purchase agreements will be signed between Cambodian and Chinese companies at the upcoming event, he said.
Hun Lak, who is also the managing director of Mekong Oryza, one of Cambodia's milled rice exporters, said his firm has supplied milled rice to about five distributors in China since 2012.
"China is a huge market for Cambodian rice," he said, adding that his firm shipped more than 10,000 tons of milled rice to China a year.