Cambodian garments and textile exports grew 9 per cent in the first three months of the year. Cambodia exported $1.17 billion worth of garments and textiles between January and March this year compared to $1.08 billion in the same period a year ago.
During the first quarter, the US was the number one export market for Cambodian garments and textiles, followed by the European Union, Canada and Japan. While Cambodia’s garment industry has been the beneficiary of sourcing shifts from more expensive countries, including China in recent years, it has also been shaken in recent months by lapses in factory safety and large-scale labor unrest. Some denim giants have reduced their sourcing from Cambodian garment factories in a bid to minimise supply-chain risk and ensure delivery amid ongoing unrest in the country.
The garment sector accounts for more than 80 per cent of Cambodia's exports, and is a lynchpin of the country’s economy. Cambodia began exporting garments in the 1990s. Low wages and an abundant workforce, powered mainly by the country’s rural population, have drawn major clothing brand names to the country. Today, the industry has almost 550 factories, mostly owned by Taiwanese, Korean, Chinese, Hong Kong and Singaporean companies.