Data from the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) showed that in the first quarter of 2023, textile-linked exports reached $2.449.4 billion, down a total of $705.6 million or 22.4 per cent over the same period last year.

Kaing Monika, spokesman for the Textile, Apparel, Footwear and Travel Goods Association in Cambodia (TAFTAC), said the slowdown was due to global economic factors such as inflationary pressures, the Russia-Ukraine war and the Covid-19 crisis.

“According to a survey of our members, I believe this trend will continue into the second quarter. When a negative situation like this occurs, the drop is extremely powerful, but it should be kept in mind that our export status at the beginning of 2022 was very favourable,” he said.

Monica’s statement was echoed by Cambodia Footwear Association president Ly Kunthai, who claimed that the main cause of the fall in textile-related exports earlier this year is the prolonged Russia-Ukraine conflict, as US banks continue to hike interest rates.

“In European and American markets, orders are declining because the discretionary income of the people in these countries has fallen sharply. The inflation crisis has caused people to start cutting their unnecessary spending, especially things like clothes and shoes.

“Regarding orders from the beginning of last year, some companies haven’t sold out yet, so there aren’t any fresh orders, which caused orders from earlier this year to decline,” he noted.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng said the global crisis is a major factor that could push down Cambodia’s textile-linked exports.

“Exports are showing signs of decline. There are two factors. The first is inflation in markets that have been ordered from us, such as the EU and US, as well as a number of other countries. Second is the seasonal goods factor, which means that although exports may have fallen earlier this year, they will improve in the middle or end of the year,” he said.

Ky Sereyvath, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the protracted global economic crisis, especially Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has weakened the European and US economies.

The reduction in orders has caused a turning point in the sector for individuals living in Europe and the US, he added, stressing this downturn is not as drastic as the crisis, but it is a gradual weakening of the economy, which has led to a gradual decline in orders.