Cambodian exports soared 24 per cent year-on-year to $2.563 billion in the first two months of this year, despite the reverberating local and global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The private sector believes that the Kingdom’s exports will suffer a sharp blow from this month as the US and Europe – economically devastated by the outbreak – stop importing garments, footwear and bags.
The Kingdom imported more than $3.6 billion worth of goods during the period, up 22 per cent over the year-ago period, according to Ministry of Economy and Finance data as reported by local channel BTV News on Tuesday.
The data shows that garments, footwear, bicycle and rice exports fuelled the growth. The Kingdom’s main imports were construction materials, machinery and fuel.
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) secretary-general Ken Loo told The Post on Tuesday that the US and Europe have been suspending their orders of Cambodian goods.
“I think Cambodia’s exports will decline from now on. We are losing export markets for garment, footwear and travel products because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led the US and Europe to suspend their orders.
“Only when the virus has been contained and the US and Europe reopen will we be able to export there,” he said.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng echoed Loo’s comments, saying that the Kingdom’s exports are set to decline starting this month.
“I saw that Cambodia’s exports continued to grow two months ago, as Covid-19 had not spread as far and wide as it has now,” he said.
The Ministry of Commerce on Monday appealed to buyers of the Kingdom’s garment, footwear and travel products to honour all pending purchase agreements.
“We would like you to abide by your contracts and not to cancel orders that have been placed on goods that have already been produced or are currently in production.
“You have contributed to the social development of millions of Cambodians who are depending on these sectors for their livelihood,” it said in an announcement.
On Friday, GMAC, along with nine other members of the Sustainable Textile of Asian Region network across six producing and exporting countries made a similar appeal.
They called on global brand companies, retailers and traders to be responsible in their purchasing decisions – to accept goods that have been delivered and to not retract orders or renegotiate their terms.
Loo said: “We seek your cooperation so that we can all uphold and honour our commitments to labour rights, social responsibilities, and to rebuild a sustainable supply chain. We ask that you honour the terms of the purchasing agreements for the orders that have already been placed.
“Fulfil your obligation and do not renegotiate the payment terms. Receive your goods and proceed with payment as agreed upon, for goods already produced as well as for goods currently in production.
“I am sure that if we all cooperate and work together, we will survive and become stronger. More importantly, our workers will also be able to survive and together we can rebuild our lives, our businesses and the industry,” he said.