After annualised figures show improvement in July, August’s official data reveal a slight drop in exports as slump persists
CAMBODIA’S garment exports continued to drop on an annualised basis in August according to provisional figures release Monday by the Ministry of Commerce.
The 19.17 percent year-on-year fall in the value of garment exports during the month to US$263.39 million follows an 18.84 percent fall in July and a 33.06 percent fall in June.
Total garment exports for the first eight months of the year were worth $1.59 billion, 22.56 percent lower than over the eight months to the end of August 2008, figures from the ministry’s Trade Preferences System Department show.
Department Director Mean Sophea said the figures for August were not final, as not all factories had yet submitted their export data. However, he said that any future adjustments to the numbers were likely to be minor.
The figures also show that textile exports fell 15.18 percent in August to $3.06 million, while exports of footwear gained 1.93 percent to $8.10 million. Textile exports were worth $19.41 million for the year to the end of August, 21.31 percent less than a year earlier, while footwear exports grew 26.66 percent to $72.44 million, including $44.09 million in exports to the European Union, up 10.92 percent year-on-year.
US demand remains low
The decline of exports to the United States was the main reason for the fall in export volumes, said Aok Bung, secretary of state at the commerce ministry in charge of garment exports.
“This year, because of the effect of the world economic crisis, American people have spent less money on clothes than they did last year,” he said.
Ministry figures show garment exports to the key US market were down 27.87 percent to $165.48 million in August, representing around 70 percent of total garment exports. US buyers took just over $1 billion worth of output from Cambodia’s garment manufacturers over the first eight months of 2009, down 29.9 percent from $1.42 billion a year earlier.
Garment exports to the EU shrank a more modest 7.20 percent over the period to $383.68 million, boosted by an 8.87 percent jump in August to $64.27 million.
TNT Express Worldwide (Cambodia) Country General Manager Sjaak de Klein told the Post last week that he had witnessed a pickup in garment factories in the last couple of months, with many factories receiving new orders and “showing a lot more interest in terms of bringing in fabrics and accessories”.
Vietnam performs better
The poor performance of the Cambodian sector comes in stark contrast to that of neighbouring Vietnam, where shipments fell just 1 percent to $6.73 billion over the first nine months of the year, Bloomberg reported Monday.
Vietnam’s low-cost manufacturing base has allowed exports of items such as garments to be more resilient than elsewhere in Asia, Ho Chi Minh City-based fund managers Dragon Capital said last month.
“April and May were very tough months, but in June a lot of orders started coming in, mainly from Europe and Latin America,” John Marron, managing director of Midas Clothing Ltd in Ho Chi Minh City, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying. “People have been moving garment export production out of China, which is becoming more expensive, while Vietnamese prices are stable.”