Cambodia's garment and footwear exports rose by 16 per cent in the first six months of 2014. The products are mainly exported to European countries and the United States.
The garment and textile industry in Cambodia was established in 1993 when foreign investors set up manufacturing there. Over the past 20 years, the industry has grown tremendously and is now the largest foreign exchange earner in Cambodia and a significant contributor to its economy. The country rebounded strongly from the global economic downturn, with garment and textile exports in 2010 increasing 25 per cent year-on-year and in 2011 increasing 34 per cent.
Since 2001, Cambodia has been a beneficiary of the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative, which is part of the EU’s generalized system of preferences and which grants virtually all products excepts arms and ammunition duty-free and quota-free access into the EU market. However, the industry lacks a strong textile manufacturing base, and operates largely in the final phases of garment production — mainly cut, sew and trim — and imports almost all of its fabric, which is supplied mostly by China as well as other Asian countries.
Cambodia benefits from duty-free and quota-free access to the EU and the United States as well as to many other major world markets though the country may receive less preferential economic treatment from Europe in the coming years as it becomes more developed.