The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia has called on international buyers to continue ordering clothes and textile products made in the country over fears the US and the EU could halt preferential treatment for Cambodian exports.
GMAC issued a statement on Friday addressed to the United Nations, foreign embassies, the EU, the US, buyers and stakeholders.
It asked that the current political situation not be used to punish the garment industry.
“GMAC appeals to all of our international buyers to continue their support for Cambodia and our member factories to materialise our economic goal, which is the improved well-being of all Cambodian people,” it said.
It said GMAC’s 600 member factories economically support more than 700,000 workers, most of whom are female, and about two million of their family members.
“Employers and employees, as well as trade unions, have been working normally and peacefully to support themselves and the Cambodian economy. The development of our industries so far has lifted millions of people out of poverty. More development is needed to help the rest who are still poor,” it went on.
The statement also said workers are currently happy with the benefits provided to them by the government and employers, including health care, maternity schemes, free transport by public bus, pensions, affordable rents, electricity and water bills, and the new minimum wage of $170 to be offered in January next year.
“The government and employers remain committed to link our trade to improved working conditions by complying with the national law and core international labour standards,” the statement added.
Last week, union leaders sent petitions to ambassadors from the EU and US, asking that sanctions against the country be avoided to protect the livelihoods of workers.
There are concerns the US could remove preferential treatment for Cambodian exports offered under its Generalised System of Preferences, while the EU could do the same for privileges provided through its Everything But Arms initiative.
National Trade Unions Coalition president Far Saly said he supported GMAC’s appeal to buyers.
“It is good that GMAC did this,” he said. “This association is trying to attract more investors to Cambodia and they are thinking about workers and the Cambodian people who are receiving lots of benefits from the garment industry.”