Sector experts express more confidence after recording 11pc increase in April
WHILE Cambodia’s garment exports continue to decline month-on-month, the sector in April still posted gains over last year’s export figures, according Ministry of Commerce statistics.
The worth of the Kingdom’s main export product was recorded at around US$175 million last month, up from $158 million in April 2009.
The 11 percent year-on-year growth was lower than the 18 percent annualised hike seen in March, but well above February and January’s 4.8 percent and 1.6 percent respective export rises.
According to an April-on-April market breakdown, exports to the US increased almost 10.2 percent – from $100 million to $111 million – and EU exports went up around 3 percent to $38.5 million from $37.5 million.
Exports to other foreign markets dramatically rose by around 31 percent from $19.6 million to $25.5 million.
However, the figures showed that exports to US market sharply declined about 18 percent month-on-month, while EU exports decreased 3 percent and other foreign exports fell 33 percent.
On Thursday, Neou Seiha, senior researcher at Economic Institute of Cambodia, said that the monthly decline may be a result of the high number of public holidays in April – which may have contributed to lower production levels, in a pattern repeated last year. “If we look to our country we took many days off for public holiday in that month [April],” he said.
Neou Seiha added that garment production can be seasonal, as Cambodia relies on economic cycles in countries that order products from the Kingdom, such as China. He added that he is optimistic for overall growth in the industry this year.
This view was reiterated by Chan Nora, secretary of state at the Commerce Ministry. He said that Cambodia’s garment sector has improved this year, as the Kingdom exits the global economic crisis.
“We see that there has been an increase in orders from the US and other countries. People are beginning to spend money on new clothes,” he said.
He added that garment workers were well aware of labour laws and were willing to work with manufacturers to increase production, rather than carrying out strikes or demonstrations.
Secretary General of Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), Ken Loo, also recognised the improvement of the industry.
“I think we all know that industry is recovering. I can say that this year is still better than last year,” he said.
However, he remains worried about the rising price of raw materials while the price of garments on international markets is falling. “I think that is the big problem for the industry,” he said.
Total garment exports fell by 15.5 percent in 2009 compared to 2008.