Cambodia's textile, garment, footwear and clothing exports have seen a sharp decline in the first nine months of the year, a trend attributed largely to falling global demand, particularly in the EU and US markets, the Ministry of Commerce reported.

During this period, clothing exports shrank by over 17%, footwear by over 25%, handbags by more than 13% and textiles by over 7%. In monetary terms, garment exports totalled over $5.929 billion, while footwear brought in over $991 million. Handbags and other textile products accounted for over $1.223 billion and $325 million respectively.

Katta Orn, spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, said on October 11 that the dip in the garment sector mirrors a broader decline in global uptake.

"Demand for orders has waned this year. The decline has hurt some factories and workers, leading to suspended contracts and reduced working hours,” he said.

"The government continues to roll out the cash assistance programme for those impacted by this global downturn," he added.

Ly Khun Thai, president of the Cambodian Footwear Association (CFA), told The Post that the slump, especially the more than 25 per cent drop in footwear, was not due to domestic issues but a fall in international orders.

"The primary factor was global. Reduced incomes worldwide have led consumers, especially in the EU and US, to cut back on non-essential purchases like shoes and bags," he explained.

He also noted that the decline was exacerbated by the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which had significant impacts on major Cambodian markets.

"We're deeply concerned about this trend and we're exploring new markets to hopefully rejuvenate export growth," he stated.

According to a recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) report, the economies of developing countries have declined from 2.2% growth in 2022 to 1.5% in 2023, with projections indicating a further decrease to 1.4% in 2024.

The downturn has adversely affected all garment-exporting countries. In the first half of 2023, Indonesia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka experienced drops in export rates of 19.2%, 15.7% and 14.6% respectively, with a global average decline of 13.5%.