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Employees added as garment sector grows

Domestic garment factories have added workers as the sector rebounds from the global financial crisis, according to an International Labour Organisation report released yesterday.

Some 305,832 workers were employed at domestic garment factories in October, a 3-percent increase on 296,800 a year earlier, according to the ILO’s survey of 131 factories.

A recovering world economy fueled a rebound in the Kingdom’s garment and textile industry last year, the report said.

“Cambodia’s apparel industry, one of the most adversely impacted countries during the downturn, stabilised and grew in 2010,” it said, adding the garment industry represented some 90 percent of Cambodia’s exports.

There were 262 active factories in December 2010, up from 243 the year previous.

Two changes to the global garment market would likely benefit Cambodia, it said.

Rising wages for Chinese, Vietnamese and Bangladeshi workers meant foreign producers could continue to diversify supply chains, while the European Union’s Everything But Arms initiative also makes exporting from Least Developed Countries more attractive.

“LDCs can now export to the EU duty free even if the country only partakes in the processing of goods. Cambodia, a country that imports all of its fabric, will be one of the greatest beneficiaries of the new rule,” it said.

Although the ILO maintained a positive outlook for the industry, it claimed a continued rise in the price of cotton could be “problematic,” but added greatest pressure would be felt outside of Cambodia where higher-value apparel products are made.

The ILO also sounded optimistic about labour relations in the report, claiming unions and manufacturers are committed to “finding common ground to improve industrial relations.”

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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