The Ministry of Commerce (MoC), Cambodia during a meeting on Tuesday with representatives from global clothing brands and unions, said that the garment sector is burdened by low productivity brought about by outdated technology, which sinks the country into low positions within global value chains.
Hence, the government has called on international buyers to participate in the investment, increase investment in the garment and footwear sector and to introduce new technologies to help modernise the industry in order to help boost their exports, according to a senior official.
H&M, Next, C&A, Debenhams, Inditex, Kmart-Australia and Primark were some of the global companies represented at Tuesdayâ€™s meeting, as well as international union federation IndustriALL.
Frank Hoffer, the executive director of Action, Collaboration and Transformation (ACT), who spoke on behalf of participating global brands, said that one of their priorities as buyers is to strengthen cooperation among all stakeholders in the garment and textile industry.
ACT is an initiative between international brands and retailers, manufacturers and trade unions to address the issue of living wages in the textile and garment supply chain.
Mr Hoffer especially asked for enhanced discussion with the government on the state of the industry. He requested the MoCâ€™s support to set up a workshop with buyers, unions, factory owners and government agencies to hear from all sides and collectively prepare a strategy to guide development in the sector.
Mr. Hoffer said that he would like all stakeholders to aim for a healthy balance between minimum wage and productivity that would benefit workers, as well as buyers and factory owners.
Ken Loo, the secretary-general of GMAC, said recently that garment exports will be expanding at a rate of five percent by the end of the year, adding that he expects similar growth in coming years if certain issues hindering the industry are addressed.
He said that issues now hampering the sector include high production costs, low productivity and access to a limited number of markets. If they take care of these issues, the industry will continue to grow.
They hope there will be a change in productivity, a reduction in the cost of doing business and new governmental policies to help investors.
The main export markets for Cambodian garments are the EU, the US, China, New Zealand and Japan. During the first nine months of the year, eighty percent of that trade consisted of garments or footwear of the Cambodiaâ€™s total export volume which touched $9 billion, according to the MoCâ€™s figures.
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