More than 30 new footwear and travel goods factories were opened in Cambodia during the first half of this year.
This comes despite the Kingdom facing the possible withdrawal of the EU’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said.
During a Tuesday press conference for an industrial sector exhibition set to be held next month, GMAC executive director Ly Tek Heng said 34 new factories were opened in the first half of this year, which is 15 more than the same period last year.
Two of the factories will produce footwear and 32 travel goods, he said.
“Our industrial sector is developing well and investors continue to enter our garment and textile industry. New factories are coming, mainly of travel goods, as the US continues to provide us with its Generalised Scheme of Preferences [GSP],” said Tek Heng.
However, during the same period, 10 garment factories were closed, said GMAC deputy secretary-general, Kaing Monika.
The Kingdom is set to jointly hold its 8th Cambodia International Machinery Industry Fair and 8th Cambodia International Textile and Garment Industry Exhibition between August 22 and 25 at Koh Pich in Phnom Penh’s Tonle Bassac commune, where there will be nearly 300 booths.
Tek Heng said the event will help attract more foreign investors to Cambodia. “Manufacturing is usually a long-term investment in Cambodia, so they [foreign investors] will seek to develop new technologies and help increase production.”
Yorkers Trade & Marketing Service Co Ltd project manager Akai Lin, who is one of the exhibition’s organisers, said 200 companies from 15 countries will display innovative products and solutions.
“A decade of stable growth has made Cambodia a target for investors in Asia,” he said.
Cambodian Labour Confederation president Ath Thorn lauded the new factories, but he believes that investors are unlikely to further invest in the garment, clothes and footwear industry due to concerns about the negative effects of EBA withdrawal.
“New garment factories may not continue to be open much longer. GMAC also suspended wage negotiations in the sector due to EBA concerns,” said Thorn.
However, he said, Cambodia may see a rise in travel goods investments, as it has duty-free access to the US market for all kinds of handbags and suitcases.
Cambodian exports to the US have seen a strong expansion, amounting to $1.12 billion in the first three months of this year – up 24 per cent from $903.6 million during the same period last year, thanks largely to a boost in travel goods exports.
Cambodian-made suitcases and handbags have been provided access to the US market under the GSP programme since July 2016. Access has contributed significantly to increasing the value of the Kingdom’s exports to the country.