Textile industries play an important role in the development of a country, especially in its initial stages. It is easy for a developing country to produce good quality textiles at a cheaper price; this is because the country is well equipped with cheap labor and abundant natural resources. Southeast Asian nations have found immense success in the trade of textiles. They are fast emerging as the "hub of textile production" in the global textile industry. Their exports to developed countries like USA and Europe is steadily increasing, and in the meantime they are also attracting the attention of markets like Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

The year 2012 was a difficult year for many textile exporting countries, including the ASEAN countries. USA and Europe resorted to comparatively lesser textile imports, which led to a decline in the textile exports of many countries like India, China, and others. China had a market share of around 41 percent in 2011 in the European continent which reduced to around 39 percent in the year 2012. ASEAN countries fared better in comparison to many other textile exporting countries in 2012. Vietnam and Cambodia exported textiles and textile products in huge quantities to USA and Europe in 2012. Cambodian exports of textiles and clothing rose by 8.7 percent in this period.

Cambodian textile industry is one of the fastest growing textile industries all over the world. Western and Asian countries have or are seeking trade relations with it. It largely imports raw materials for textile from China, and exports it to the other countries of the world like USA, Europe, and even Asian countries. Its proximity with Vietnam is one of the major contributing factors to the development of its textile and clothing industry. It attracts huge foreign investments every year, and China is the biggest investor in the Cambodian textile industry. It also provides grants to the industry for its development. Other than China, Japan and Vietnam are also major investors in the country.

Textiles contribute immensely to the Cambodian economy, and constitutes of around 80 percent of its total exports. Revenue of around $4.6 billion was generated by the industry in the year 2012, and its main importers were USA and Europe. The garment exports recorded a growth of around 32 percent in the first half of 2013 as compared to the first half of 2012, and the growth in exports is likely to continue for Cambodia. The country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is expected to soar this year owing to the increasing exports. Though the industry has its cons and shortcomings, it contributes immensely to the global textile industry in the current situation.

Other than cheap labor and abundant natural resources, there are many factors that contribute to the development of the Cambodian textile industry. Government support to the industry has remained commendable. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is allowed in its garment sector, which has led to many foreign companies investing large scale in Cambodia. With a value reaching US$ 1.6 billion, FDI grew by around 73 percent in 2012. Cambodia can secure its textile and garment exports to USA under the quota system prevalent in the country. This quota system is linked to the labor conditions in the country to a certain extent, which ensures that garment manufacturers provide appropriate working environment to its laborers. Such laws for worker entitlements ensure that investors do not tread away from the Cambodian garment factories because of unethical working conditions for the laborers.

Cambodian textile industry, in comparison to the Chinese textile industry and Indian textile industry, is less developed. But rising labor costs in China is making textile manufacturers from the west to shift their focus towards other countries with cheaper labor. Cambodia has remained successful in reaping benefits from the scenario. It has been estimated that Cambodian labor prices are almost three times cheaper as compared to Chinese labor prices. Textile companies based in Hong Kong and having a huge work force are shifting their entire worker base to Cambodia. Besides, Japanese small-time enterprises also prefer Cambodia over other Asian countries like Indian and China.

USA, Europe, and many other developing countries lack the man power and natural resources to have a well-established textile industry. They prefer to outsource their manufacturing work to developing countries, as it proves to be cheaper to them. Cambodia, along with other ASEAN countries, is one of the most sought after destinations for outsourcing for these developed countries. Cambodia exported garments worth $532 million to the European Union and garments worth $660 million to USA in the first half of 2013. Garment exports rose by 45 percent during this period as compared to the same period in 2012 with respect to the European Union, and it rose by 17 percent with respect to USA.

Cambodian textile industry is not devoid of flaws, like the textile industries of all other countries. It has its own shortcomings, for example lack of infrastructural development in the country. But investors were able to overcome this disadvantage to a considerable extent (especially in the textile industry), because textile industry is largely labor intensive. Limitations in capital investment were overcome by foreign investors who were more than happy to invest in the Cambodian textile industry. The prevalent quota system protects the Cambodian garment industry from cut-throat competition. A possibility lurks that the phasing out of this advantage may result in the downfall of the industry. But till the time, Cambodian textile and garment industry is going strong.

Cambodian garment industry employs a strong workforce in its factories (around 500,000), and majority of them are young women (around 80 percent). It has been estimated that around one-fifth of the total women population in Cambodia has been employed in this industry. The industry has made many women in the country independent, working women who not only support themselves, but also support their families. This industry has provided employment opportunities to the women, and thereby increased their overall standard of living. Government organization and many NGOs have joined hands to improve the safety and living conditions of these workers, and the expected result is on its way.

As in the case of all the ASEAN countries, the textile and garment industry has a significant role to play in the overall growth of the Cambodian economy. The GDP growth of the country was recorded to be 7.2 percent in the year 2012. It is expected to grow by the same value in 2013 and by a value of 7.5 percent in 2014. Its textile industry has a big contribution towards its development. As the quality of the manufactured textiles and textile products improve with time, the Cambodian economy is expected to see more exports and foreign investments. The Cambodian

textile industry is next only to Vietnam in the Southeast Asian region. It will continue to play a major role in the global textile industry for a long time.

The influence of the Chinese experts is the biggest strength of this industry. It is easy to find Chinese employees in Cambodian garment factories, who offer Chinese expertise along with Cambodian artistry to textiles and garments. The factories moved from China to Cambodia depict a mixture of Chinese and Cambodian skills in the manufactured textiles and textile products. It is soon expected to level its field with China, India, and other major players of the global textile industry. The global textile industry will be benefitted with low priced and good quality products from Cambodia.


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