United States Ambassador Patrick Murphy has lauded the Kingdom’s efforts in strengthening labour conditions by expanding the Better Factories Cambodia programme to also cover travel goods production.
Mr Murphy on Wednesday met with Labour Minister Ith Samheng to express support for the move.
Mr Murphy on Twitter shortly after the meeting said he encourages efforts to improve workplaces of factory workers.
“Happy to see Better Factories Cambodia expand its labour rights programme to travel goods,” he said.
BFC was created in 2001 as a unique partnership between the United Nation’s International Labour Organisation and the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, according to its website.
The programme engages with workers, employers and governments to improve working conditions and boost the competitiveness of the garment industry, it added.
Last month, BFC was extended for another three years and expanded to cover travel goods.
The Memorandum of Understanding to extend the programme was signed by ILO, the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Commerce and the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia.
The programme, which has been renewed six times since it began in 2001, will run until December 2022. This time, however, its scope has been broadened to include travel goods.
“Since 2001, when BFC was established, the programme has –with all of you –improved working conditions and provided more jobs in the garment sector with spillover effects to other sectors,” Graeme Buckley, ILO country director, said last month.
In a statement issued after the meeting between Mr Murphy and Mr Samheng, the Labour Ministry said it was optimistic Cambodia-US relations will strengthen in the sectors of labour and vocational training.
It said Mr Samheng briefed Mr Murphy on the Kingdom’s efforts to strengthen labour rights, including by expanding BFC to cover travel goods.
The ministry said Mr Samheng noted Cambodia’s recognition of inputs given by the US on the formulation of laws, regulations and development projects.
It said Mr Samheng and Mr Murphy agreed to continue cooperation in the labour and vocational training field and continue to trade.
Two-way trade between Cambodia and the US reached $4.3 billion in the first nine months of 2019, an increase of 37 percent when compared with the same period last year, according to US government data.
Cambodia mostly exports textile, footwear, travel goods and agriculture products to the US, while the US ships mostly vehicles, animal feed and machinery to the Kingdom.