Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Questions raised over garment statistics

Questions raised over garment statistics

Garment factory workers produce items of apparel at a warehouse in Kandal province last year.
Garment factory workers produce items of apparel at a warehouse in Kandal province last year. Heng Chivoan

Questions raised over garment statistics

While Cambodia’s garment sector exhibited solid growth last year, employment levels declined, raising concerns about a potential rise in unregulated subcontracting, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a report released yesterday.

In its sixth bulletin of the Kingdom’s garment sector, the ILO noted that while garment exports increased by 7.2 percent in 2016, the number of officially registered factories fell by 10.4 percent, and total workers declined by 2.9 percent.

The divergence between export growth and employment, according to the bulletin, could be combination of factors that include a rise in the industry’s productivity, statistical problems with measuring factory numbers, and increased production at subcontracting factories.

Regional ILO Director Maurizio Bussi said in a press release accompanying the report that the use of subcontracting could be a cause for alarm because these operations can hide from domestic and international scrutiny.

“A rise in employment and production in subcontracting factories could be a concerning development if subcontracting is being used as a way to undercut regulations, including the Labour Law and the minimum wage,” he said.

The report added that unlike registered exporting factories, subcontractors are not monitored by the ILO’s Better Factories Cambodia programme, and also may receive less attention from national enforcement agencies.

According to the ILO’s figures, which are obtained from the Ministry of Commerce (MoC), employment numbers in the sector fell to 602,129 last year, compared to 622,943 in 2015, representing a nearly 3 percent decline. There were 626 factories in operation as of end-2016, compared to 699 one year earlier.

The report added, however, that the analysis could be skewed due to a statistical recalibration that occurred in the middle of last year when the MoC updated its database and reclassified over 120 inactive garment and footwear factory entries as closed or suspended during the first quarter of 2016.

Newly approved investment into garment factories in 2016 also declined by 34 percent compared to the previous year, totalling $248 million in fixed assets.

“This made 2016 the fourth straight year in which the value of newly approved investments in the garment and footwear sector declined in Cambodia,” the report said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from