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Better tech and training needed for garment industry

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
Cambodian women working at a garment factory. KT/Chor Sokunthea

New technology and better training are needed to make the garment industry more competitive, productive and efficient, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.

That was the view given by Hak Sokchea, national project coordinator of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) at the Textile and Apparel Southeast Asia Summit 2019, held at the Garden City Hotel, in Phnom Penh yesterday.

“Improving resource efficiency in factories and industries could offset any expense caused by current uncertainty over the withdrawal of the European Union’s Everything-but-arms (EBA) privilege from Cambodia,” he said.

Mr Sokchea said efficient use of resources and cleaner production methods would also be better for humans and the environment.

He said cleaner production adds value to electronics manufacturing services (EMS) by placing an emphasis on pollution prevention rather than control. He said it doesn’t impede growth and insisted growth can be ecologically sustainable.

Cleaner production is not limited to the manufacturing industries of a certain type or size. It can also be applied towards the provision of services, said Mr Sokchea. He said cleaner production also means reducing risks to the environment, communities, and businesses.

“Through our experience working with the garment sector, we found that there are more opportunities to develop the efficient use of resources in garment factories and industries,” Mr Sokchea said.

“This year, we are working with 10 garment factories and five F&B (food and beverage) companies. We plan to work with 50 manufacturers. However, we have 15 at present. There will be 20 in 2020 and a further 15 in 2021,” he said. “We work with companies in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, and Battambang.”

Hak Sokchea, Unido’s​national project coordinator. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Mr Sokchea said that with the support of Unido they can cut energy consumption by 20 to 30 percent and water use by 10 percent.

“What we can help them do is make better use of effective resources. Some companies can benefit by hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

“We observed that some factories and companies have suspended operations while they wait for the results of the EBA announcement next year.

“We don’t expect to fully offset the cost of losing EBA status through implementing more resource-efficient management, but strengthening resource efficiency will help strengthen the company’s competitiveness as we will see more productive and happy workers.”

Andrew Tey, director of the Cambodia Garment Training Centre Institute (CGTI), said productivity is improving every year. He noted that many factories are now investing in new equipment and are training staff to improve competitiveness and productivity.

He said some factories can improve their efficiency and productivity by as much as 65 to 75 percent, adding that some only manage a 35-40 percent improvement.

“I think in recent years, a lot of factories have been sending workers to CGTI for training and they are more aware of the importance of training,” Mr Tey said, adding that improved efficiency will help them absorb any loss from a change in EBA status and help them stay in business.

He said factory waste is an important issue and wanted every business to reduce it in the interests of profits and efficiency. “Waste is the biggest problem right now,” he said.

“Giving up or relocating a factory will not solve the problem,” Mr Tey said.

“At this moment, some buyers are positive, some buyers are waiting to see,” he added. “We will see more factories coming to Cambodia.”

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