In the first four months of 2023, Cambodia's export earnings from "articles of apparel and clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted" reached $1.395 billion, reflecting a 28.49% year-on-year decrease and a 40.80% decline compared to the July-October 2022 period. This category accounted for 19.28% of the country's total merchandise exports during this period, down from 25.64% in the same period last year. Despite the decline, the current export levels are still higher than during the Covid-19 lows.
Reasons for the Decline
The drop in exports is attributed to economic hardships caused by the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, which disrupted raw material and energy supply chains globally, leading to increased production costs and inflation. The tightening of expenses by consumers in major markets for Cambodian apparel, such as the US and Europe, also contributed to the decline.
April Exports and Challenges Ahead
In April 2023, Cambodia exported $347.692 million worth of apparel, marking a decline of 31.83% compared to the previous year. Although this figure is down from the record high in July 2022, it remains higher than the lowest point in April 2020 when Covid-19 had a significant impact. However, the challenges persist as Chapter 61 items accounted for 18.87% of the country's total exports in April 2023, down from previous periods.
Industry Challenges and Export Destinations
The Textile, Apparel, Footwear & Travel Goods Association of Cambodia (TAFTAC) highlighted that the industry has been facing year-over-year export declines since August due to global economic uncertainty and the Ukrainian crisis. The top export destinations for Cambodia's garment sector are the US, EU, Japan, Canada, and the UK, with the situation in the EU currently unfavorable. Despite a growth trend in recent years, the industry faces ongoing challenges amid global economic turbulence.
In 2022, Cambodia exported Chapter 61 items worth $6.367 billion, reflecting a 9.41% increase compared to the previous year but a 3.26% decrease from the record high in 2018.