May 24, 2011

Clothing Exports to US Jump in First Quarter

[VOA]

Cambodia’s clothing exports to the US jumped 26 percent in the first quarter of 2011, compared to the year before, signaling improvements after the 2008 economic crisis, officials said Monday.

Kong Puthear, director of statistics for the Ministry of Commerce, said some economic recovery in the US caused the bump in orders. “As in Cambodia, if we have political turmoil an instability in the country, we can’t order to buy goods from other countries.”

This year’s first quarter exports reached $521 million, up from $411 million in the same period of 2010, according to ministry statistics. Total exports for 2010 were $1.84 billion.

Cambodia was one of the 10 cheapest suppliers for the US clothing market in 2010, along with Bangladesh, El Salvador and Honduras.

All four countries have seen growth in the beginning of this year, with Bangladesh growing the fastest in the first two months year on year.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said factory owners had gained more and more profits from clothing exports but had not passed those earnings down to workers.

“The garment workers are the producers,” he said. “If the owners do not increase the salaries, it will affect clothing exports.”

Cheat Khemara, a senior official at the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, said factories were not yielding such high profits.

Cambodia has about 530 garment factories, employing more than 370,000 workers. Factory workers have warned that their low salaries will not be enough to support the continued rising cost of goods.

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