Cambodia will prepare a sub-decree improving existing labour mechanisms by adding detailed procedures, permanent management mechanisms, responsibilities for relevant companies, especially sub-subcontractors, as Cambodia seeks to ensure the prevention of the use of forced labour.

Ministry of Commerce secretary of state Sok Sopheak, who heads the commission for manufacturing subcontract management in the garment, textile and footwear industry, made the remarks at a March 17 meeting of the commission, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and the VF Corporation.

He added that the Cambodian government has paid close attention to preventing the use of forced labour and to the concerns of the AAFA and the VF Corporation which questioned whether forced labour was used to produce goods for exports.

An inter-ministerial commission was set up on June 27, 2011. The commission was adjusted on January 23, 2023 to expand the scope of work.

Members of the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training were added to the commission to launch a special investigation into forced labour in Cambodia.

“Cambodia is obligated to abide by national and international laws. The commission has also been disseminating national and international regulations relating to the use of forced labour to factories and enterprises in order to avoid the violation of the law by the private sector, which leads to fines, sanctions and damage to the interests of factories, enterprises and the reputation of Cambodia,” Sopheak stated.

Representatives from the AAFA and the VF Corporation said that the AAFA and the VF Corporation sides are satisfied with the Cambodian government’s action to implement the laws.

The companies also requested that the commission continue its investigation into relevant companies. The AAFA and the VF Corporation will cooperate to offer more information that is necessary to protect the reputation of Cambodian products.

Hong Vannak, an economist at the Institute of International Relations of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that preparations for this sub-decree were to further strengthen the capacity to boost exports to the US and increase the confidence of buyers of the garment, textile and footwear from Cambodia.

“In doing so, it is good to be transparent and ensure the well-being of our Cambodian workers. In the past, the ILO [International Labour Organization] followed this work closely and reported no problems,” he said.