The clothing sector strategy “coming soon”

A development strategy designed to transform Cambodia’s garment trade into a dynamic, diverse, high value-added and competitive sector – with a focus on upskilling factory workers – will soon be launched, a senior official said. responsible for the Ministry of Finance on February 18.

Secretary of State in the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Phan Phalla, made the remarks during a public forum on macroeconomic management and the Financial Management Act 2022 on February 18.

Although the garment sector has been an important economic hub for Cambodia, value added has remained low over the past 20 years as goods produced in the Kingdom have been made with unsophisticated skills, he said. he declares.

He added that the sector could produce better goods and fetch higher prices through worker upskilling, which he said has been built into this strategy.

At the forum, the Permanent Secretary of State in the Ministry of Finance, Vongsey Vissoth, said that the garment sector still has the potential to achieve significant growth for the Cambodian economy, but this requires the proper implementation. implementation of this development strategy.

“The government wants to see the apparel industry evolve towards producing high value, high value-added goods,” he said.

He added that the strategy also aims to increase the number of domestic investors, “currently 95% of investors in the garment sector in Cambodia are foreigners.”

Cambodia’s competitors – including Vietnam, Bangladesh and Myanmar – “missed their chances”, Vissoth said without giving further details.

The Deputy Secretary General of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), Kaing Monika, told The Post that the garment sector development strategy should be launched soon so that it can serve as a roadmap. clear road for the industry on how to maintain its competitive advantage. .

He lamented what he saw as a delay in releasing details of the strategy, saying it should have been in place a long time ago as stakeholders had been discussing policy making for some time. of the clothing sector.

Monika also stressed that the strategy should have a strong focus on the labor sector and focus on improving workers’ well-being, productivity, industrial relations and skills development.

“In order to be able to produce good, high-quality goods, we need a skilled workforce, so we need to focus on improving the skills of workers,” he said. .

Apparel sector exports grew by more than 10% in 2021. Despite the positive growth, however, Monika warned that profit margins could be squeezed in the era of Covid-19, with the need to put in place implementation of sanitary measures, labor issues and increased shipping costs being key factors leading to a potential reduction in profits.

Chairman of the Cambodian Footwear Association, Ly Khun Thai, said in an interview with the Post on Feb. 20 that the garment industry’s development strategy will help improve workers’ skills and attract more investment. .

“Several companies have used new technologies in their factories that could improve the quality and quantity of goods produced,” illustrating a transition to Industry 4.0, he said.

Cambodia exported nearly $8.83 billion worth of clothing, footwear and travel goods in the first 10 months of 2021, up more than a tenth year-on-year, data shows. published by GMAC.

Broken down by category, exports of apparel, footwear and travel goods amounted to $6.538 billion (up 6% year-on-year), $1.113 billion (up 20%) and $1.179 billion ( up 49%). respectively, the association reported.

Michael O. Stutler