EuroFair 2018 / Cambodia attractive market for luxury European brands and construction companies

By: Robin Spiess - Posted on: June 30, 2018 | Business

Dozens of international businesses have gathered to showcase their wares and establish regional contacts at Cambodia’s annual EuroFair, a three-day event that expects to draw approximately 10,000 visitors to Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island Exhibition Hall this weekend

Modern skyscrapers are becoming a more common sight in Phnom Penh

Hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia, the event has proven especially effective in drawing European construction companies and luxury brands that are attracted to local markets due to the Kingdom’s consistent economic growth.

One such company, Eurasia Concept, imports and sells luxury European-brand furniture and decor in Southeast Asia. Though the company launched in Cambodia just last November and has not yet established a local office, it has already seen a high demand for its products among owners of both commercial and residential properties.

“Cambodia is booming economically, and it’s absolutely full of construction,” said Sergio Della Giovanna, design manager at Eurasia Concept. “These buildings need furniture, and many of the newly-constructed buildings in Phnom Penh need to be outfitted in luxury.”

He added that Cambodia is an especially attractive market in the region because there are few active players in the luxury furniture industry at this point in time.

Stefano Antoniazzi, partner at Italian-based construction company Daas and Vernici, echoed these same sentiments when he noted that Cambodia’s rapid construction boom has yet to be accompanied by an adequate increase in companies offering necessary construction services like industrial cleaning, corrosion protection and other technical work.

“It’s not that Cambodia doesn’t have the right tools for construction–it’s just that so often, companies here are not aware of how to safely and correctly use these tools,” Antoniazzi said. “That’s where we come in. We’re here because there’s a lot of construction, and not many companies that are effectively maintaining these buildings.”

While many European companies have set up booths at this year’s EuroFair, there is also a strong showing from Cambodian businesses interested in tapping into the vast European market.

In 2017, total trade between Cambodia and members of the European Union amounted to nearly $7 billion, establishing the EU as Cambodia’s second biggest trading partner. Cambodia has consistently exported far more than it has imported from these markets, with 2017 exports to Europe reaching nearly $6 billion.

Artisans Angkor, a handmade crafts and silks company that employs underprivileged and disabled Cambodian craftsmen, has set up shop at the fair in the hopes of establishing contacts in the robust European market that might import their locally-produced goods.

Moeurn Sreytouch, a saleswoman for the company, said that while the business had French founders, it had thus far found it difficult to attract the attention of European buyers from other countries.

“We’re here to promote our brand, because it’s a brand we believe in, and we think we could do a lot of good and expand our business if we connect to the European market,” she said.

In his opening remarks, Simone Pieri, chargé d’affaires of the Delegation of the European Union to Cambodia, stressed the importance of maintaining the strong economic relationship between Cambodia and the EU for the benefit of both parties.

He noted, however, that human rights and labour standards in the Kingdom would have to continue to improve in order for this relationship to continue flourishing.

Tekreth Kamrang, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, also lauded Cambodia’s strong trade with the EU, which she attributed to the “tireless efforts of the Royal government” and the booming garment industry that employs over 700,000 locals.

Seemingly with respect to Cambodia’s tense upcoming national elections, which will be held late next month, Kamrang took the opportunity to stress the importance of continued peacefulness in Cambodia in order for the country to maintain a lively and growing economy.

“Cambodia has undergone a political and social transition over the past 20 years, from a war-torn country to a popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia,” she said, addressing the crowd of business owners and potential investors. “Only in peaceful conditions can a country develop.”