Cambodia exported more than $3 billion worth of garments, footwear, travel goods and other textile-related products in the first quarter of 2022, an increase of nearly a quarter compared to the same period last year, according to data from the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE).

GDCE figures show that in January-March, these exports amounted to $3.155 billion, up by $627.8 million or 24.8 per cent year-on-year. The products were not broken down by category. “Travel goods” is a designation that includes suitcases, backpacks, handbags, wallets and similar items.

While unable to provide concrete figures, Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) deputy secretary-general Kaing Monika affirmed that garment exports increased in the first quarter from last year.

He chalked up the jump in garment exports to the stability of production and favourable external factors such as a continuing shift of influential orders away from China and Myanmar to other countries including Cambodia.

He labelled the current trend as a “positive sign” that growth would likely extend until end-2022, but cautioned that the increase in sales does not necessarily guarantee that profits have been improving.

“As we’re all aware, during the Covid-19 crisis, there were more costs than usual, so despite the increase in sales, there was little profit.

“At the end of the day, we’ve had loads of issues, including those concerning salaries and Covid-related expenses, as well as the suspension of production when workers were absent due to Covid-19. Therefore, exports do not mean that profits will increase,” Monika said.

Cambodia Footwear Association president Ly Kunthai admitted that his association did not have clear figures on footwear exports, but shared that members were receiving “a lot” of orders as countries reopen and roll back Covid-19 restrictions, allowing commodity traffic to gradually edge towards pre-pandemic levels.

“Still, we understand the state of trade between individual countries is better than it had been two years ago,” he said.

GMAC data reveal that exports of textile-related products amounted to $11.3896 billion in 2021, a $1.505 billion or 15.2 per cent jump from 2020.

Broken down by category, garments accounted for $8.017 billion, footwear made up $1.390 billion, travel goods were to the tune of $1.490 billion, and other categories clocked in at over $0.49 billion.