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Garment exporters look for answers to falling export figures
Jun '09
The garment manufacturers held a meeting last week against the backdrop of a fall in demand for clothing in overseas markets and met to discuss as to how to escape the financial crisis.

But more important was a question on each and every apparel exporter's mind as to whether there was something else other than the slowdown which needed to be looked in to urgently in this period of crisis.

Figures released by the government indicate that exports of clothing fell by 26.41 percent to US $534.6 million in the first quarter of 2009, when corresponded with figures of the same period in 2008.

The World Bank office in the capital also estimates that around 63,000 workers have been laid off in the last few months, while also considering the fact that a few of them have been absorbed by the new factories that have come up.

Experts aver that, it is surprising that shipments have not fallen to worse levels considering the fact that, the competitiveness of the sector is less than those companies in Vietnam and Bangladesh.

However, there are other industry experts, who say that exports should not have fallen to these levels considering that Cambodia is in to production of mass consumed clothing which is not affected much by recessionary trends.

They add that, Cambodia has a good manufacturing capacity, but severe weaknesses in other areas, including infrastructure, workforce productivity, utility costs and trade facilitation, which were costing exporters.

This was also the finding of a recent UN Development Programme report on Cambodia's competitiveness in the global economy that placed the country last among ASEAN nations and among the worst-performing countries worldwide.

Still there are others who maintain other then these factors; it is also the rising dollar which has hurt the competitiveness of these units. These and many other issues will the focal point of discussion at the meeting.

In the last few years, on pressure from buyers, the government and the manufacturing companies have taken initiatives to employ better working practices, but consultants say along with this competitiveness also needs to be improved.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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