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Official calls for overseas buyers to boost business

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
A senior official from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has called on buyers to continue purchasing garments, footwear and travel bags from Cambodia to keep locals employed and paid. KT/Chor Sokunthea

A senior official of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT) has called on  international buyers to continue to order goods from Cambodia to contribute to improving the living and working conditions of the Kingdom’s employees.

During a workshop on a joint development plan for sustainability of compliance in the field of textiles, garments, footwear and travel products and bags this week, the ministry’s  Secretary of State Heng Sour said it was important for buyers and the private sector to cooperate because it is a key driver in ensuring the sustainable development of these sectors.

He added that both technical and financial support from development partners and stakeholders in projects that improved working conditions, employees’ well-being and productivity are indispensable.

“We requested all international buyers to continue purchasing goods from Cambodia,” Sour added.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) Deputy Secretary-General Kaing Monika said orders have declined and were volatile from the slump in global demand. He added orders have become small and required fast delivery which makes it very challenging for manufacturers to plan ahead.

Monika said that in the first seven months of the year, Cambodia exported more than $5.8  billion of garments, footwear and other textiles. It was down around 3 percent from the same period last year.

Monika added that both the GMAC and government call on buyers to continue to support Cambodia by providing enough orders from factories in the Kingdom in order help them continue to operate. “We also call on the government to release as soon as possible the development strategies for the garment, footwear and bags sector (2020-2025),” he said.

Group CEO of corporate finance firm Cambodian Investment Management Anthony Galliano said the garment sector is suffering a demand side cataclysm, with major buying countries’ imports dropping 70 per cent in the first half of 2020 from garment-exporting countries in Asia.

“Consumers are on a buying hiatus, tightening their belts given grave economic conditions and job and income uncertainty due to the economic impact of COVID,” Galliano said.

As of September 2020, almost half of all jobs in garment supply chains were dependent on demand for garments from people living in countries with the most stringent lockdown measures in place. The Asia-Pacific region represents 75 percent of all garment workers worldwide, employing an estimated 65 million garment sector workers in 2019, he said.

He added Cambodia is in intense competition with the four largest garment exporters in the world: China, Bangladesh, Vietnam and India.  The successful garment exporter model has the cheapest labour costs, highest productivity, good infrastructure and competitive customs and tariffs.

“While asking the exporting countries to buy goods from the Kingdom to contribute to working conditions for Cambodian workers is a valiant plea, the demand that is remaining will likely follow price, quality and efficiency before loyalty and altruism,” he added.

The Cambodian government is now preparing five-year development strategies for the garment, footwear and bags sector (2020-2025) to promote their competiveness and added-value, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF).

The government’s strategy on garments is aimed at setting common development directions, increased independence and strengthening the appraisal and stability of the garment, footwear and bags sector to further promote its sustainability and environment, the MEF said.


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