Cambodia shipped $8.2417 billion worth of garments abroad in January-September, surging by $843.4 million or 11.40 per cent over the same period last year, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise.
This is despite the February 20 community outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 – and the ensuing lockdowns that have precipitated fundamental disruptions in production chains.
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary-general Ken Loo recently told The Post that orders for garments have managed to avoid sliding into negative territory despite Covid.
Of note, the Kingdom has been gaining market share from competing producing countries that are facing unprecedented challenges arising from political issues and Covid-19 ramifications.
“This year we are lucky to receive some orders shifted from Myanmar. We should have grown bigger if there hadn’t been a February 20 community outbreak,” Loo lamented.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the uptick in garment exports augurs well for economic activity in the Kingdom, as other countries reel under the severe conditions wrought by Covid-19.
He described this upswing as a “very good reflection” of government measures adopted to “prop up our country’s economic growth”.
Cambodia has remained an alluring regional investment destination, largely buoyed by a slew of economic reforms drawn up to facilitate trade and attract investment, he said.
Chief among these were bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTA) which improve access to more markets, investment laws and e-commerce registration systems, he noted.
He said the government is also striving to streamline the local investment and business environment to instil confidence among businesspeople and investors amid expanding market access to a range of countries.
The FTAs with China, South Korea and other markets, in particular, will make Cambodia a better investment destination, he underlined.
"I am still optimistic that improvements in garment exports will clearly demonstrate that our country is still able to export despite the spread of Covid-19," Vanak said, highlighting that the corresponding exports of other countries had recorded year-on-year declines.
Cambodia exported $9.50171 billion worth of garments – including apparel, footwear and bags – in 2020, marking a 10.44 per cent plunge compared to $10.60986 billion in 2019, according to the Ministry of Commerce.