IMPROVEMENTS to labour productivity in the garment industry are making Cambodia competitive among developing countries, according to leading economists.
“Our productivity is improving more than other countries.So we have more competitive offers – even though our labour costs are also slightly higher,” Neou Seiha, senior researcher at the Economic Institute of Cambodia, said at a seminar yesterday.
The session was jointly organised by the EIC and the research body Institute of Developing Economies-Japan External Trade Organisation .
Tatsufumi Yamagata, director of IDE-JETRO, compared Cambodia to Bangladesh.
“Bangladesh has not succeeded in improving productivity as much as Cambodia – that is one point we have emphasised,” he said at the sidelines of the seminar at Phnom Penh’s Cambodiana Hotel.
He said the Cambodian garment sector was hit hard by the global financial crisis .
Demand dropped, he said, but noted that recovery was faster than in other countries, saying Bangladesh had been similarly affected but that its resurgence had been slower.
He partly attributed the quick recovery to Cambodia’s smaller size, saying that Cambodia only had a few more than 300 factories, compared with Bangladesh’s 4,000 or more plants.
“I am very optimistic that Cambodia will return to the level of garment exports it had in the last few years,” he said.
The Kingdom’s garment exports declined about 16 percent year on year from 2008 to 2009, but rose over 10 percent to $1.33 billion for the first half of 2010, from $1.21 billion for 2009, according to figures released by the Ministry of Commerce.
About 60 economists, representatives from garment manufacturing associations, NGOs and government institutions participated in the seminar yesterday.
Kaing Monika, business development manager for the Garment Manufactures Association of Cambodia, declined to comment when approached by the Post.