The number of factory openings in the Kingdom rose sharply last year, with 269 new plants starting operations, a 51 per cent year-on-year increase.

Most of the openings were garment factories, a recent report from the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft said.

There are now a total of 1,730 factories operating in the Kingdom.

Of these, 1,069 are in the garment, textile, footwear and travel goods sectors; 157 in the food and beverage and tobacco sector; 59 in the paper and paper products sector; 143 in the rubber and plastic products sector; 54 in the wood products sector, and 195 in the metal products sector.

The labour force in the industrial sector has exceeded one million workers, growing by about seven per cent last year.

The garment, textile, footwear and travel goods sectors employ 923,313 people (a five per cent year-on-year increase), while the other sectors combined account for 117,861 workers (a 20 per cent increase).

Speaking at an annual meeting on Monday, Minister of Industry and Handicrafts Cham Prasidh said Cambodia is becoming a more attractive investment destination for manufacturing.

“New factories are opening in our country with high investments and using advanced technology,” he said.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on Monday that the new factories will help boost the Kingdom’s exports.

“The growing number of new factories is a sign that the economy is experiencing strong growth,” he said.

Lun Yeng, secretary-general of the Cambodia Rice Federation, an organisation with more than 300 members, said investment in the rice sector is increasing as companies expand the capacity of silos and warehouses to meet rising demand.

“Members of my organisation increased shipments abroad and penetrated new markets,” he said.

Speaking at a conference late last month, Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Vissoth said the rising number of new factories outside the garment sector means the country is diversifying its manufacturing base.

“Jobs in the manufacturing sector will continue to increase as exports to the United States rise and as more and more factories are built,” he said, adding that exports to the US grew by more than 30 per cent in 2018 and 47 per cent last year.

Data from the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft shows that exports of garment, footwear and travel goods were worth more than $9.3 billion last year – an 11 per cent increase compared to 2018.