INDUSTRY figures reveal Taiwan is the leading nation investing in Cambodia's garment sector with 68 factories out of 274 in operation. The figures were released last week by the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), an industry body.
Kaing Monika, GMAC's external affairs manager, said China is the second-biggest investor in the sector, with 55 factories. Hong Kong is third with 51 factories, while South Korea has 32 factories.
The leading non-Asian investor in the garment sector is the United States which is in seventh place with 10 factories.
GMAC President Van Sou Ieng said that although Taiwan has the largest number of factories, China brings in 70 percent more raw material, worth around US$1 billion.
"Regardless of where the investment comes from, it is good because [all investors] have capital and experience, and they can provide jobs for the Cambodian people," he said.
Van Sou Ieng added that the government ought to help the garment industry, a key segment of the local economy that is experiencing difficulties in the global economic crisis, by cancelling all import taxes on raw materials.
A report from GMAC earlier this year revealed that 56 garment factories shut down in the first six months of 2009. About 24,000 workers lost their jobs, two-thirds of whom worked at the 23 factories that were GMAC members.
Opposition party lawmaker Yim Sovann said the government should improve the business environment to ensure firms are more competitive in relation to those in neighbouring nations.
"It could do this by rooting out corruption and lowering some of the costs of production, especially the price of electricity," Yim Sovann said.
Figures from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) show that Taiwan invested $7 million in Cambodia this year, which is around 0.5 percent of total inward investment.
China has invested $242 million, which is around 20 percent. Last year China invested $4.3 billion against Taiwan's $21.5 million.