Long Beach, Calif., saw its second annual business expo last weekend, where US and Cambodian partners looked for new ways to increase the flow of trade between the two countries.
Danny Vong, an adviser to the Cambodian-American Business Association, which hosted the expo, said trade was moving forward.
“Last year we did not have permission to import rice from Cambodia,” he said. “This year, two companies are selling Cambodian rice in Long Beach.”
The Imperial Rina Group is one of two companies in Long Beach currently importing rice from Cambodia.
“This is a huge success for IRG, to bring rice produced by Loran, Inc.,” said Burnen Ben, a sales representative for the company. “This is the first time we’ve imported rice from Cambodia to the US.”
“Our first shipment arrived in Long Beach in May,” said Phannarith An, president of Angkor International, the other rice importer. “We’ve had three shipments since then. Many people have supported us, because they want to support Cambodian rice farmers.”
Pan Sorasak, secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce, said Cambodia was hoping to export more products to the US.
“First we pushed for rice,” he said. “When we have more experience, we will bring other products, especially agricultural products.”
Aside from promoting trade, the business association also seeks to promote culture, bringing to this year’s expo a fashion show, classical dance and Cambodian martial arts.
Khim Sarith, secretary of state for the Ministry of Culture, praised the efforts of the Long Beach community.
“Our brothers and sisters in the United States have Khmer heart and Khmer blood,” he said. “It is reflected in the expo today. Everyone who’s come to this expo today can get to know some of Cambodia’s characteristics.”
Madeline Chea, 14, was among those who came out for the expo. Born in the US to Cambodian parents, she said she is proud to be Cambodian-American.
“When people ask me what nationality I am, I’m proud to say I’m Cambodian,” she said.