Phnom Penh Post, Issue 17 / 03, February 8 – 21, 2008
Garment exports plummet in Q4
Cambodian garment exports plummeted 46 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007, capping off a dismal year in one of the country’s key sectors, industry officials said, while warning of future factory closures and job cuts. An economic downturn in the United States, which buys 70 percent of all Cambodian textiles, and continuing labor disputes contributed to the plunge, said Van Sou Ieng, chairman of the Garment Manufacturers’ Association of Cambodia (GMAC). Until last year, the sector had enjoyed annual growth of up to 20 percent. But export growth for all of 2007 stood at only 2.4 percent, representing $2.9 billion, Van Sou Ieng said, adding that the outlook for 2008 “surely was not good.” “Definitely some factories will close, some people will lose their jobs,” he said. (AFP)
Cambodia short on trade negotiators
The government’s staff of trade negotiators is being stretched beyond its limits, Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said February 5. “We’re running out of trade negotiators and I am using my few able staff to run around several countries to negotiate [free trade agreements],” he said at the opening of a three-day UN conference on educating regional countries in trade. Attended by Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Vietnam, the conference allowed Cambodia to share the lessons it learned under the TradeforTrade program, according to organizers. TradeforTrade is run by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and financed by the French Ministry of Foreign of Affairs. The program has trained more than 650 Cambodian officials and businessmen in areas such as trade law and negotiation since 2003, and will continue until the end of 2009.