According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance (MEF), the Cambodian government is designing five-year growth plans for the apparel, footwear and bags industry (2020–2025).
Aun Pornmoniroth, the MEF minister. said during a discussion on draft strategies that the Kingdom’s garment, footwear and bag sectors have played an important role in contributing to economic development by creating jobs, increasing people’s incomes amd, in turn, reducing poverty. However, he said with its strong progressing in competitiveness, the sector is now facing some challenges that require more development and more competitiveness by the end of 2025.
“This strategy is an important roadmap because it will set out a vision to transform Cambodia’s garment, footwear and bag industry into a high-value, supportive, diversified and more competitive industry,” he said. To achieve this goal and vision, the strategy will continue to strengthen human resources, increase productivity and create business lines for workers. It will as well as continue to improve working conditions and the welfare of workers, promote direct domestic and international investment in value-added products, attract investment in industries that support the sector and promote export market diversification, according to the brief draft.
Data from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, in the first half of 2020, showed Cambodia’s garment exports were valued at $3.784 billion, a fall of 5.4 percent from more than $4 billion in the same period last year. Cambodia exported $9.3 billion of garment products, footwear and travel goods in 2019, a year-on-year increase of 11 percent, according to a report from the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology, and Innovation. Most of the products were exported to the European Union market under the support of the Everything but Arms (EBA) trade status and the US Generalised System of Preference (GSP).
However, the Cambodian garment sector, which is the country’s main engine to boost economic growth, has been hit hard by the pandemic, leaving thousands of workers unemployed while also facing the loss from the EU’s partial withdrawal of EBA, effective from Aug 12. Pornmoniroth said that the government’s strategy on garments is aiming to set common development directions, increase independence, strengthen the appraisal and stability of the garment, footwear and bags sector to further promote the sector’s sustainability and environment.