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Global brands positive about sourcing from Cambodia
15
Oct '08
Twenty-eight representatives from leading garment brands came to Cambodia last week for a two-day meeting of the International Buyers' Forum organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The representatives stated they are recommending that their companies continue sourcing from Cambodia.

Forum participants remain very optimistic about Cambodia's garment industry, said Mr. Tuomo Poutiainen, Chief Technical Advisor of ILO's Better Factories Cambodia program. “Participants told me that subject to customer demand, on-going monitoring from Better Factories Cambodia and continuing good results, their companies are very positive about producing garments in Cambodia.”

Membership in the Forum comprises 32 brands which buy 60% of Cambodia's garment exports. Cambodia's garment sector is worth $ 2.6 billion and is critically important to the estimated 350,000 workers and their extended family members who depend on the industry (a total of at least 1.7 million people).

The Forum, which takes place twice a year in Cambodia and Hong Kong, was convened by ILO and IFC to discuss the current work and future of ILO 's Better Factories Cambodia, and to discuss how to support increasing the competitiveness of the industry so that it continues to survive.

BFC provides labor monitoring, remediation, and training for exporting garment factories. The Forum is implemented in partnership with and funded by MPDF, a private sector development initiative in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Lao PDR managed by IFC, whose donors are Australia, Canada, Finland, IFC, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Buyers' representatives met initially on their own for half a day, then separately with manufacturers, and then unions. On the second day, all four garment industry stakeholders - Forum members, manufacturers, unions and government met together to create a joint vision for the future of the industry.

Mr.Tuomo Poutiainen said that the meeting was a great success. “It confirmed both the relevance and importance of Better Factories Cambodia and stakeholders' belief and support for its new directions.

There was consensus too that industry actors need to work more closely together, and the program needs to move beyond monitoring, and expand training and remediation. This view was widely shared by all the stakeholders.”

Ms. Naurin Muzaffar, Senior Manager, Global Partnership, for Gap Inc. praised evolution of the Forum and BFC. “Over the years, the meetings keep getting better and better. The engagement with the unions in this Forum was the best yet.

The discussion was well structured and productive. BFC has also evolved greatly from just monitoring, to adding advisory services, capacity building and all the mechanisms required for these.”

H&M's Code of Conduct Manager,Mr. Erik Carlborg, said that compliance with labor standards is a very important part of H&M's business strategy, and that they firmly believe that BFC is a positive contributor to the good compliance level in the Cambodian garment industry.

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