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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US garment quota gets boost

US garment quota gets boost

Cambodia's garment industry has been granted an 18 percent increase in its export

quota to the United States for 2003.

The country's largest employer and biggest source of foreign exchange received an

automatic 6 percent quota increase, as well as a 12 percent bonus for compliance

with good quality work practices.

Under the unique trade deal with the US, quota increases are granted for complying

with labor standards. A maximum increase of 24 percent was available under the agreement.

"We welcome this increase," said Ray Chew of the Garment Manufacturers'

Association of Cambodia. "It is an indirect acknowledgment that working conditions

in Cambodia's garment factories are improving."

George McLeod, the international liaison officer with the country's largest garment

workers union, the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, welcomed

the increase. He also called on the government to enforce its threat against factories

that did not comply with the labor law.

That followed Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh's recent letter to 28 factories that

had breached labor conditions, demanding they explain charges of anti-union discrimination

or face exclusion from the quota.

"The increase is positive for the industry," said McLeod. "Now unions

and the government should pursue the problem factories on a case-by-case basis. In

the past the government has made statements like this during the quota negotiations

but not followed them up."

Garment exports are the country's largest export. Figures compiled by the Cambodia

Development Research Institute show that first quarter garment exports to the US

were worth $159 million. Exports to the rest of the world were worth $74 million.



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