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Early data show decline in garment sector growth

Garment workers sew items of apparel at a factory in Phnom Penh in 2014.
Garment workers sew items of apparel at a factory in Phnom Penh in 2014. Pha Lina

Early data show decline in garment sector growth

The labour minister said on Monday that Cambodia’s garment sector grew by 4 percent last year to reach $7.6 billion, which would mark a slowdown in the growth rate compared to previous years.

Ith Sam Heng made the remarks at the ministry’s annual meeting, noting that the $7.6 billion amount was up from $7.3 billion in 2016. According to previously reported government data, the sector grew by 7.2 percent in 2016, up from $6.8 billion the year before.

It’s the first official reporting of 2017 export data for the sector. Export data are traditionally released by the Customs Department at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, however government officials have reported that the department has not released data from the second half of 2017. Both academics and business insiders have said the lack of accurate data harms research and business in the Kingdom.

The “trade statistics” section of the Customs Department’s website yesterday was displaying Lorem Ipsum text, often used by web developers as a placeholder and intended to be replaced with actual content before the site’s launch.

Slowdown was expected
The slower growth rate was anticipated by industry representatives.

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said in October that the sector would likely see slower growth than in 2016, which he attributed to the larger base-size for the industry and said was not related to the political situation.

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