Boost for the garment industry

May Kunmakara / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Workers at a garment factory in Cambodia. KT/Ven Rathavong

Ethical Trading Initiative’s (ETI) recognition of the Cambodian garment industry’s efforts at social compliance is a sign the sector is swiftly moving in the right direction, said a senior official of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).    

Kaing Monika, the deputy secretary-general of GMAC, told Khmer Times his organisation was pleased by the ETI’s decision to continue to support Cambodia’s garment and footwear industry.

“We look forward to their concrete actions in pushing member buyers and brands to place more orders in Cambodia as a response to the country’s continuous improvement in social compliance,” he said.

“We hope to see social compliance carry real weight in each and every buyer’s balanced scorecard and that no more orders are placed in countries with cheaper labour forces that work in unsafe, substandard conditions.

“Cambodia’s wage is no longer low and that required extraordinary efforts by all parties here. However, of equal importance is a real commitment by our international buyers to adhere to the principles of social compliance,” he added.

ETI is a UK-based organisation that works to achieve ethical trade in global supply chains by lobbying for the welfare of workers worldwide.

ETI puts pressure on corporations to implement a base code in their supply chain based on freely chosen employment, freedom of association, safe working conditions and reasonable working hours.

Peter McAllister, the executive director of ETI, speaking after a meeting with Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng on Monday, said there was a lot of room for progress in the garment sector and many opportunities for the government and buyer companies to work together towards a better future for the industry.

“There is now a stable environment, a good relationship between players in the industry. Cambodia certainly has a great future for securing great business and great industry investment,” McAllister said.

Minister of Labour Mr Samheng said foreign purchasers were satisfied with what Cambodia had achieved when it comes to worker welfare and expects orders to increase in 2018.

Starting in January next year, the new minimum wage for the garment and footwear industry will be $170, higher than other garment-manufacturing powerhouses in the region like Bangladesh or Myanmar.

At present, 520 garment and 52 footwear factories are registered with GMAC. Garment and footwear exports, which account for 78 percent of total exports, rose by 7.2 percent in 2016, reaching $7.3 billion.

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