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Garment makers must focus on Asean countries for imports
Jan '09
As the wrath of global financial meltdown continues, the condition of textile industry in Cambodia worsens.

Job losses and closures hit one of the major foreign exchange earners of Cambodia - the textile industry; creating severe pressure on the manufacturers as the US clothing market reels under recession.

To cope with the situation, delegates from Association of Southeast Asian Nations' Federation of Textiles and Apparel met at a recently held conference in Phnom Penh to propose a number of crisis-fighting measures, including a move to source raw materials locally instead of from China.

Representatives from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, participated in the conference.

Ok Boung, the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Commerce, requested representatives to compete with China rather than each other. “I want to remind all of you that Asean countries are not competitors. The real competitor of Asean countries is China," he told delegates.

According to Cham Prasidh, the Minister of Commerce, with the economic downturn hitting the high-end and mid-range markets hardest, garment makers to target the lower-end market.

Van Sou Ieng, President of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia said that the lack of locally-produced fabric has raised manufacturing costs by forcing factories to import raw materials. Thus importing from regional neighbours instead of China would cut transportation costs. Then garments could be sold at more competitive prices and help improving the efficiency of processing purchase orders and exporting goods.

Van Sou Ieng further added that agreements have been reached with some developed countries to ease tariff restrictions. "Developing countries have been given some incentives, with the European Union, Canada and Japan allowing us to export garments duty-free,” he stated.

Le Quoc An, Chairman of Asean's textile federation and Head of the Vietnam Textile Industry, said that instability in the global market has forced Vietnam's garment sector to reduce costs and look for new markets.

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