Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday urged Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian to look into the possibility of exporting raw materials by air and sea to the Kingdom in order to prevent job losses resulting from a suspension in the operation of garment factories.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the 174-kilometre-long National Road No. 58 in Oddar Meanchey province, the premier asked Mr Wentian to intervene and figure out possible ways for transporting raw materials used in garment and textile factories to the Kingdom.
“I’m hoping Ambassador Wang Wentian will coordinate with the Chinese government to send the raw materials by ship and I think that my Chinese friends can do this. Cambodia will try to assist in this case also,” he said.
“If some materials need to be transported by plane and since China has a lot of planes, we should be prepared to make that happen to save the workers affected by temporary garment factory closures in Cambodia,” Mr Hun Sen added.
According to him, factories facing raw material shortages have to accelerate importing these by ship and airplanes.
Mr Hun Sen said both countries may incur transportation costs but it will protect the Kingdom’s garment workers from losing income and also boost factory production.
Some factories may be forced to temporarily suspend operations in Cambodia as a result of disruption in the export of raw materials from China due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Mr Wentian said at the event yesterday all relevant institutions in China are now paying close attention to the problem and figuring out solutions to curtail the side effects.
“We are now coordinating ways to find the solution that allows raw materials to be transported to factories in Cambodia and reduce the negative consequences. Please Samdech [Hun Sen] do not worry,” he said.
The Garment Manufacturer’s Association of Cambodia said earlier this month more than 60 percent of raw materials used in garment and textile factories in the Kingdom are imported from China, with many suppliers temporarily halting production and affecting factories in the country.
Kaing Monika, Deputy Secretary-General of GMAC, said yesterday the temporary suspension of production has not yet started, but he foresees some suspensions to start from mid March until April.
“Now some factories, though not 100 percent, in China have restarted their production. The government has sought special treatment from our Chinese friends to put Cambodia as top priority in terms of supplies,” he said. “Small volumes of materials can come by air if required, but big bulk fabric supplies will have to come by sea.”
According to the Labour ministry, about 7,000 workers will face lay offs if the delivery does not materialise. If the shortage drags on, about 90,000 workers will be suspended at the end of March.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union Movement of Workers, said yesterday he supports Mr Hun Sen’s statement, adding the move will also be less time consuming.
“Using flights and ships to transport raw material from China to supply the garment chain in Cambodia is a good way but it’s also costly,” he said. “What’s important is the government must make it possible for the factories to continue production so workers can be less vulnerable to joblessness.”
Mr Hun Sen on Monday also announced garment workers who have lost work due to temporary factory closures amid the Everything-but-arms withdrawal and the COVID-19 outbreak will be paid 60 percent of the minimum wage.
Of that 60 percent, he said 40 percent will be the factory owner’s responsibility and 20 percent will be provided by the government.