The garment sector in Cambodia, which has been under fire for poor labour conditions and safety issues recently, reported exports worth $1.56 billion in the first half of 2013, a 32 per cent growth over the first half of 2012.
In the period, exports to the EU were worth $532 million, up 45 per cent year-on-year. Exports to the US rose by 17 per cent to $660 million. Growth in exports was the result of “stabilising demand” from the US and Europe, according to Kong Putheara, director of the Ministry of Commerce’s Statistic Department.
Garments are among the biggest foreign currency earners in the country’s export portfolio.
Another factor that drove buyers to Cambodia were the factory collapses in Bangladesh that sparked international concerns about the sector and the rising labour costs in China. However, wages have also been raised in Cambodia and conflicts between factory businesses and labour unions are rife.
The first half of 2013 saw 111 cases of labor disputes, compared to 114 cases in the first half of 2012, according to figures from the Arbitration Council. The number of strikes during that period rose to 30, compared to the first half of 2012, the Cambodia Daily reported.