US remains main market for Cambodian garments

20 May '16
3 min read

The US is still the main market for Cambodia's garment and textile industry, the country's Labour Minister Sam Heng said this week after a meeting with the US ambassador William Heidt, the Khmer Times has reported.

After the meeting with the US ambassador in the Labour Ministry, Sam Heng told reporters on Wednesday that despite the increasing number of countries competing in the garment export business, the US was still the key buyer of Cambodian products.

“The United States' market is still very important for us. Although it is now the second biggest importing market after the European market, it is still big and worth billions of dollars. So we are still trying to work well with buyers from the United States and get them to place more orders to us,” Sam Heng said.

According to data from the US Trade Office, total exports to the US dipped about 3 per cent in the first quarter of the year to more than $706 million compared with $725 million in the same period last year.

Cambodia's Commerce Ministry spokeswoman Seung Sophari had told the Khmer Times last week that the slight drop in exports to the US in the first quarter was mainly due to the current electoral campaigns in the US and the rise of new exporting countries like Myanmar. However, she said she was optimistic that the figures will improve soon.

“We don't think that the decline will fall too far because their economic situation will improve at some point soon,” Ms. Sophari had said.

Cambodia is now the US's 70th largest goods trading partner with $3.0 billion in total between the two countries in 2013. Cambodia was the US's 129th largest goods export market in 2013, while Cambodia was the US's 60th largest supplier of imported goods in 2013, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative.

Sam Heng said the ambassador raised the issue of imports during a discussion about the union law, saying the law should be implemented fairly among concerned parties in the interests of the industry.

“What was of concern was just a few issues about the implementation of the union law and we are required to carry it out fairly with all trade unions and no discrimination. This is our stance to do that,” he said. “We think that the law is in line with the interests of employees and employers as well as the investment climate of our country. And we will try our best to implement it.

Cambodia's garment and footwear industry plays a critical role in the economy, representing 70 per cent of total exports and employing more than 700,000 workers. The total exports from the sector were worth $6.3 billion last year, a slight increase of 7.6 per cent from the previous year, according to figures from the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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