Cambodian exports of footwear and related items ran past the $1 billion mark in the first seven months of 2022, stepping up more than one-third against the same period last year, given a leg-up by strong sales to bigger markets in the US, UK and elsewhere in Europe.

From January-July, exports of “footwear, socks, related products and parts thereof” amounted to $1.04523 billion, up by 33.78 per cent from the $781.32 million recorded in the first seven months of 2021. These items accounted for 7.59 per cent of the total export value for the period at $13.76973 billion, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE).

Last month alone, this category of exports registered $198.6 million, up by 38.6 per cent from $143.25 million in July 2021.

Cambodia Footwear Association (CFA) president Ly Kunthai told The Post on August 10 that these figures represent a continuation of “positive signs” for these exports, in light of the lingering effects of Covid-19 and the uncertain outlook for global economic growth.

He ascribed the surge in exports to, among other things, strong political stability; robust economic growth; a large network of buyers across many countries; abundant, diverse and cheap labour; and a better investment legal framework and overall conditions.

Kunthai explained that these exports “considerably contribute to Cambodia’s economic growth and job creation”, adding that investment in the manufacture of footwear and related items has risen in tandem.

Highlighting the relationship between these products and travel, the CFA president stated that exports are expected to accelerate this year and next, as travel gains pace amid the ebbing tide of Covid.

“I am optimistic that footwear and sock exports will show more positive signs going forward,” he said, naming the US, UK and other European countries, Canada, South Korea, Japan and ASEAN nations as major buyers of Cambodian-made footwear, socks, related products and parts thereof.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng commented that the upward trend in exports will not only ensure employment and wages for thousands of workers, but also draw the attention of millions of consumers worldwide to the quality and reputability of the Kingdom’s products.

He underscored the importance of footwear and related items as one of Cambodia’s main categories of exports with buyers from a considerable range of countries and territories, and noted that the value of these shipments reaches billions of dollars per annum, an amount that keeps growing and thereby “proving that Cambodian products are of international quality”.

Heng said continued expansion into new markets and strengthening of positions on current markets through bilateral and multilateral trade pacts will trigger increases in Cambodian exports and drive new investment.

CFA’s Kunthai shared that there are about 70 footwear factories in the Kingdom, most of which are invested by entities from mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan in the Greater China region, South Korea or Japan.

Most raw materials in making footwear are imported from China, Vietnam and Thailand, he said, adding that many prominent international brands such as Adidas, Clarks and Timberland manufacture their shoes in Cambodia.

Last year, exports of footwear, socks, related products and parts thereof totalled $1.392218 billion, up by 23.980 per cent from $1.122939 billion in 2020, according to the GDCE.