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Footwear-factory body to form

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Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh speaks during a Ministry of Commerce meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Cambodia's footwear factories will form a separate association to represent the industry and attract buyers and sellers, said Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia Chairman Van Sou Ieng.

The initiative would allow footwear factories to act collectively in a similar manner to garment factories in GMAC, he said yesterday on the sidelines of a Ministry of Commerce meeting.

“We want them to set up an independent association, letting them work together and understand the issues among its members,” he said.

Garment manufacturers had trouble solving problems before the industry body was set up in 1999, he said. GMAC is a mandatory organisation for Cambodian garment factories that export.

“The association provides a single voice to deal with the issues we confront. The government protects us and gives us ideas for us to improve our businesses – especially it helps buyers trust us.”

Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said during the meeting that exports of footwear products increased gradually year on year despite the crisis.

“Although the crisis hit us, the footwear industry did not decline – it still rose while the garment industry dropped, meaning that we have the ability to improve and grow.”

The Kingdom had 36 footwear factories at the end of 2010, in a year that saw it export some US$172 million worth of footwear products, he said. The industry has exported $65 million worth of footwear in the first quarter.

Total production of footwear ought to hit $250 million in 2011, as four or five large factories have been approved to begin production this year, according to the minister.  The new factories are thought to  employ between 3,000 and 5,000 additional workers.

The Kingdom had a total of 273 garment factories at the end of last year, he said.

Three footwear factories are already a part of GMAC, according to Van Sou Ieng.

He said he was not sure whether a separate footwear body would set up an independent association or stay with GMAC.

“[Yesterday’s] meeting, we held discussions with the footwear factory owners. We don’t know yet whether they will want to be our members, or set up on their own.”

The final meeting to set up the association will be held next month, he said.

“If they join with us, we will change the name to Footwear and GMAC.”

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