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Cambodia’s garment, footwear exports on the rise

The total value of exports from Cambodian’s garment and footwear industry increased sharply this first quarter by 39.1 per cent to some $2 billion compared to about $1.5 billion in the same period last year, according to figures released by the Ministry of Commerce.

The ministry’s figures, also indicated that the European Union (EU) remained the largest market for the country’s garment and footwear exports. The total value of exports to the EU, in this first quarter, was about $717.8 million, followed by $419.2 million to the United States, $41.7 million to Canada and $34.6 million to Japan. Exports to other global markets amounted to $65.9 million.

Seung Sophari, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce, said the increase in exports to the EU was due to the preferential treatment given to Cambodian garment and footwear products. Though there is no preferential trading agreement with the US, negotiations are ongoing between both countries. The ministry spokesperson, however, expressed concern of rising labor costs which she said did not match up with current productivity. According to Sophari this could threaten the industries, especially the garment sector. Cambodia’s garment industry is regularly plagued with strikes and protests. Advocacy groups are urging clothing brands to take action to ultimately end low wages.