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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   25 October 2013  

Garment exports up, margins down

Cambodia:Despite concerns that political uncertainty would be a drag on the economy, Cambodia’s garment exports continued on an upward trend in the first nine months of the year, the latest data show.

Though volume increased, factory profit margins were squeezed due to labour disputes and demands for higher wages, according to the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).

Cambodia’s garment and footwear exports were worth $4.1 billion in the first nine months this year, a rise of 22 per cent from the $3.44 billion amount in the nine months through September 2012, the Ministry of Commerce said yesterday.

The numbers came as something of a surprise following months of election-related tension.

After Cambodia’s disputed poll in July, many garment workers were scared to return to factories because of rumours that the country was on the brink of violence. But the tense atmosphere did not keep workers away long enough to make a dent.

The real impact, GMAC says, came in the form of labour demonstrations over unpaid wages, and gripes with management.

An ongoing strike at one of the biggest factories in the country, SL Garment Processing (Cambodia), had cost the company more than $1 million since the latest round of demonstrations began on August 12, according to the management.

International brands H&M and Gap reduced their orders, and Levi’s stopped buying from SL in August.

But Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, dismissed GMAC’s suggestion that workers were responsible for lower profits, and said labour demonstrations were too few and far between to have a serious impact.

Thorn attributed any income increase to workers having to do more overtime, and says that a raise in exports can be attributed to enhanced worker output.

“The amount they [employer] pay to worker is increased, and at the same time they get higher quantity too,” he said.

According to GMAC, the US is the biggest market for Cambodian garments and textile products, with imports worth about $1.21 billion in the first nine months, or about 30 per cent of market share. The US is followed by Europe, Canada and Japan.

Hing Thoraxy, senior researcher at the Cambodia Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said that the increasing number of garment exports reflects improved economic conditions in Cambodia and in its
export markets.

Thoraxy added that while output is strong, more is needed to diversify and enhance production levels.

“We need to shift from simple T-shirts to produce more complicated products such as coats and shirts with embroidery, to add value to the product,” he said.--The Phnom Penh Post

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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