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Garment, footwear, travel goods exports top $8.8B

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Employees leave a garment factory after work last year in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

Garment, footwear, travel goods exports top $8.8B

Cambodia exported nearly $8.83 billion worth of garments, footwear and travel goods in the first 10 months of 2021, up by more than a tenth year-on-year, according to data published by Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).

Broken down by category, exports of garments, footwear and travel goods were to the tune of $6.538 billion (up six per cent year-on-year), $1.113 billion (up 20 per cent) and $1.179 billion (up 49 per cent), respectively, GMAC reported.

At GMAC’s 15th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on January 15, outgoing chairman Van Sou Ieng remarked that these exports record admirable annual growth each year, barring major economic downturns such as those generated by the financial crisis in 2008, and Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

"[Thanks to] good policies and effective joint action between the government and the private sector, we returned to the right path to improvement in 2021, due to effective pandemic control and vaccination programmes," he said.

The association is focusing on strengthening internal competitiveness through the newly-enacted Law on Investment, which provides additional incentives for investors and launched a strategy to develop the garment, footwear and travel goods sectors, according to Sou Ieng.

GMAC’s newly-elected chairman Kong Sang, who was formerly deputy chairman, said that although the garment sector has gone through countless challenges, especially during Covid, the association and its members have worked together to successfully overcome all difficulties to date.

"Cambodia started out as a low-export country, but we have now developed into a major supplier to the world market, with an average annual growth of about 10 per cent over the last 10 years.

“Despite a slight decline in 2020, we have recovered well in 2021, with exports in the first 10 months growing significantly," he said.

Sang vowed firm commitment to fulfil his duties as the new chairman especially in priority areas, which he defined as employment, logistics, tax issues, raw materials supply, human resources training, and Industry 4.0 technology adoption.

Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng underscored the importance of the textile, garment, footwear, bags and travel goods industries, as major pillars of the economy and the Kingdom’s most vital export sectors.

"In 2021, the total export value of these sectors was about $10 billion, or about 63 per cent of Cambodia's total exports," he said.

As of end-2021, the number of officially registered factories in these sectors had risen to about 1,200, employing nearly one million workers, he added.

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