CAMBODIA imported US$1.5 billion in raw materials for garments last year, or nearly 500,000 tonnes, the Ministry of Commerce reported Friday.
The high figure was due to a lack of raw materials, which hurts competitiveness, analysts told the Post Sunday.
“We will continue such imports because our garment sector is flourishing, and we don’t have raw materials yet,” said Ok Boung, a secretary of state at the Commerce Ministry.
The Kingdom imported 415,620 tonnes of cloth and thread from China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, the ministry said.
Cambodia’s 243 registered factories exported clothing worth $2.38 billion in 2009, according to ministry figures.
Cheat Khemara, an officer of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), said Sunday that Cambodia’s high imports of raw materials make price competition difficult.
“Today, even though the government offers free tariffs for raw material imports, we encounter high-priced materials, because the companies must spend on transportation,” he said. “We want the government to improve attractions and encourage investment in industrial crops and cloth production factories in Cambodia, so that our final products can compete with neighbouring countries.”
Cambodia had factories producing cloth and thread in the 1960s, but the sector never recovered from the civil war.
Chhen Kimlong, an economics professor at Cambodian University, said Sunday that even if Cambodia is willing to produce raw materials, these might not be cheaper than imports because of a lack of technology and know-how.