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Association a shoe-in

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A young woman checks out shoes at a shop on Phnom Penh’s Norodom Boulevard. Cambodia has formed a footwear assocation to operate under the umbrella of the Garment Manufacturer’s Association of Cambodia. Photo by: Pha Lina

THE Cambodian government has approved a footwear association to operate under the umbrella of the Garment Manufacturer’s Association in Cambodia.

The decision was agreed to by representatives of 37 of Cambodia’s 38 footwear factories, with one absentee.

Speaking at a meeting late on Tuesday, Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh acknowledged it was difficult for factories to approach the government individually, adding an association would help with solving the industry’s problems.

“As the Minister of Commerce, I want you to be able to have collective bargaining power with the government,” he said during the meeting with GMAC members and footwear factory owners.

“We don’t want you to have problems and then run away, so this is the willingness of the government to open face dialogue with the footwear factories.”

The footwear industry has grown rapidly in the Kingdom. Footwear factories exported products worth about US$172 million in 2010, a 55.82 percent increase year-on-year, according to previous Ministry of Commerce statistics.

GMAC Chairman Van Sou Ieng said he supported shoe manufacturers as members of the garment association.

The association will also help match potential buyers to factories, he said.

“Having an association of your own can help promote your production,” he said.

Cham Prasidh also suggested GMAC may consider changing its name to account for the footwear association, as well as increase footwear representation on its board.

“I would like GMAC, when the time is right, to organise an election for a new board and amend the statutes of the association — the name should change to Garment and Footwear Manufacturers’ Association of Cambodia,” he said.

Footwear has been highlighted as a particularly strong area of growth for the Cambodian economy. The industry had grown by about 50 percent last year, but could potential increase between 80 percent and 100 percent in 2011, he said.

Van Sou Ieng said GMAC would hold a meeting to consider a name change, as well as include representatives from the shoe factories to sit on the board.

“What GMAC will do is to invite representatives from the shoes factories to sit on the board to make it more effective,” he added.

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