Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Garment sector weighs new reforms

Garment sector weighs new reforms

Garment workers iron items of apparel at a factory in Phnom Penh last year. Yesterday stakeholders in Cambodia’s garment industry met for a textiles conference aimed at finding solutions to improve the Kingdom’s garment sector.
Garment workers iron items of apparel at a factory in Phnom Penh last year. Yesterday stakeholders in Cambodia’s garment industry met for a textiles conference aimed at finding solutions to improve the Kingdom’s garment sector. Vireak Mai

Garment sector weighs new reforms

Garment and footwear industry stakeholders yesterday converged in Phnom Penh to discuss how to develop the sector to be sustainable and competitive.

Run by the French Development Agency (AFD), the textiles conference at the capital’s Sunway Hotel heard that improving employees’ living and working standards, and focusing on training, would help the sector grow from a vulnerable, low-skilled industry dependent on its low production costs, to become robust and competitive.

“In every sector, human resources, skills and capacity building are very important,” Philippe Steinmetz, AFD country director for Cambodia, said.

“Here in the garment sector, it’s crucial, because more than 90 per cent of owners of factories are foreigners. The middle management and top management are coming from abroad, so here, Cambodia is only providing manpower, the workforce, and it’s mainly women without a lot of education.”

“It is very narrow, it doesn’t address the raw material or the [value added component] . . . so it can easily move from this country to another.”

Steinmetz said the one-day conference, the first of its type, aimed to bring together stakeholders from across the sector, which employs almost 700,000 workers and generated about $3 billion in exports in the first half of this year.

“We will put any data and contribution on our open source website and anyone can propose something,” he said.

Figures from the Labour and Commerce ministries, unions, the International Labour Organization, labour rights groups and employers’ representatives, among others, discussed their concerns and shared their ideas for what facilitator Ian Ramage called the “common goal” of sustaining the sector.

“I saw a lot of positives out of today, and I was surprised how much good feeling there was in the room and how little bloodshed,” Ramage, director of Angkor Research, said.

Workgroups discussed five topics including gender and the challenges faced by female garment workers; financing to “fill gaps” in services and support for workers; what research and studies were necessary; “the next step” and who was responsible; and building a label that could promote best practice in Cambodia’s industry abroad.

Ramage said the latter was widely embraced.

“Thanks to programs like Better Factories Cambodia and work done on labour standards, there’s an opportunity to create a brand where ‘made in Cambodia’ means ethical standards and production that could help Cambodia keep its competitive edge over places with cheaper labour, infrastructure and electricity costs,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures