Exports of the Kingdom’s luggage were worth $1.2 billion last year, up from just $50 million in 2016, according to a statement from the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).
Its Deputy Secretary-General Kaing Monika, told Khmer Times that for travel goods, US is the biggest market accounting for about 80 percent of the total exports of the luggage. The European Union minus the UK amounts to about 10 percent and the rest is accounted for by the UK, Japan and Asean members. Regarding the lack of raw materials to supply the travelling bag factories because of the pandemic Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Kaing said that the problem would be solved in the coming months, hopefully because of the improved situation in China.
“Of concern moving forward is our export markets of the US and EU, which are seriously being hit by COVID-19. We don’t know how long this will last or how it will affect the economy, especially people’s income and consumers’ confidence,” he added.
“COVID-19 is a serious global issue. We cannot expect the same level of growth. Our forecast has to be conservative with high uncertainty on the demand side,” Kaing added. “Once the situation in Cambodia is stabilised, we can expect more orders from China.”
The growth in exports has been put down to joint efforts by the Ministry of Commerce and GMAC to send a petition to convince the US congress to allow Cambodia to export Cambodian travelling bags under the US trade preference programmes such as the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) established in 2016.
With US congress approval. the US listed Cambodian travelling bags on its GSP list.
“Based on the success of this export, GMAC would like to say thank you to the Cambodian commerce minister for his support for the exports. GMAC has also thanked the US embassy in Cambodia, especially the former US ambassador to Cambodia and the Council for the Development of Cambodia for their support to push investment in this sector,” GMAC said.
“GMAC thanked all buyers for purchasing travelling products from Cambodia and the customers who put trust in them,” GMAC said.
Mey Kalyan, senior adviser of the Supreme National Economic Council in Cambodia, said that the country has to build a comprehensive and strong economy and globalise it and not rely solely on the rest of the world.
“We should diversify our products and boost local products to protect against risk and provide added-value to all stakeholders. We have to do more,” he said.
What Cambodia has to do in the longer term is to develop human resources and technology, improve the investment climate, modernise agriculture and protect the environment, he said. Developing science and technology are also important.
According to a report from the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, Cambodia exported garment products, footwear and travel goods valued at $9.32 billion in 2019, a year-on-year increase of 11 percent. The report was released last month at the ministry’s annual meeting for review works in 2019 and the setting of objectives for 2020.
It stated there were 1,069 factories last year, of which garment and textile factories accounted for 823, travel goods factories 114 and footwear factories 132. All factories together employed 923,313 workers.