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Walmart plans to diversify stock of Cambodia goods

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Garment workers at Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone. Hong Menea

Walmart plans to diversify stock of Cambodia goods

Walmart Inc, the world’s biggest retailer, on June 22 reiterated recent plans to scale up and greatly diversify its purchases of Cambodian products, according to the labour ministry.

This came during a virtual working meeting between Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng and Walmart’s Global Government Affairs director Anbinh Phan, the ministry noted in a statement.

The statement said the US company expects the move to create job opportunities and improve the livelihoods of Cambodians, as well as contribute to the development of quality employment and vocational training systems domestically.

Walmart’s Anbinh, who is responsible for leading government relations to advance the retailer’s sourcing goals and initiatives, said the sustainability of Cambodian goods’ production and export “can be guaranteed”, which she credited to the Kingdom’s improving working conditions and the government’s effective management of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the statement.

She added that Walmart, a leading exporter of garments, footwear, travel goods and seasonal entertainment products, plans to take in Cambodian fruits and food products, electronics and furniture, should they meet international standards.

“Travel goods” is a designation that includes suitcases, backpacks, handbags, wallets and similar items.

The minister said in the statement that the government has consistently encouraged local and foreign factory workers to get their Covid-19 jabs timely – including boosters – and has prioritised accordingly to ensure that they are able to do so.

“The Royal Government has already launched and successfully implemented a 10-round stimulus package of intervention measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as well as to maintain the normal rhythm of business, production, investment and employment, and ensure the livelihoods of workers and the poor,” Samheng was quoted as saying.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) deputy secretary-general Kaing Monika said Walmart was among the top-10 largest corporate buyers of Cambodian-made garments and a “major buyer” of product from the association’s members.

Although he declined to release concrete data on the company’s orders due to confidentiality reasons, Monika confirmed that the amount of Cambodian products stocking Walmart’s shelves has been “on the rise recently”.

Similarly, Cambodia Footwear Association president Ly Kunthai told The Post that Walmart was among the top-five buyers of Cambodian-made footwear, adding that during Covid-19, the company bucked the trend and continued to place orders.

Given its access to a wide range of markets, if Walmart were to make good on its plans, the ramp-up in purchases of textile-based goods from the Kingdom would further boost domestic production and provide other bonuses, he underscored.

Founded in 1962 and headquartered in the southern US state of Arkansas, Walmart currently employs 2.3 million people and operates in 24 countries.

Data from the General Department of Customs and Excise shows that Cambodian exports to the US in the first five months of 2022 were worth more than $3.729 billion, up by over 57 per cent year-on-year. In general, most of the Kingdom’s exports to the US comprise garments, footwear and travel products.

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