Cambodias garment and footwear exports rose 10.6% during the first quarter

Cambodia's garment and footwear exports rose 10.6% during the first quarter

Cambodia’s garment and footwear exports grew 10.6% during the first quarter of 2015, according to new figures, with the number of workers employed in the industry also rising.

The news was revealed at the International Labour Organization's (ILO) new bulletin on Cambodia’s garment and footwear sector launched in Phnom Penh last week.

The bulletin reviews the performance and progress of Cambodia’s garment and footwear sector using up-to-date official data, with a focus on exports, wages, employment, factory openings and closures and newly approved foreign direct investment.

It will also be a "vital resource" for participants in the upcoming review of Cambodia’s minimum wage for the garment and footwear sector, the ILO said.

The Cambodian government, unions, and employers committed in June 2014 to a minimum wage review process that is evidence-based and takes into account a range of social and economic factors.

Maurizio Bussi, the officer-in-charge of the ILO country office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR, said: "The ILO hopes that this Bulletin will help the key actors in the world of work to have an informed discussion and constructive negotiation."

Cambodia’s garment and footwear sector employs some 600,000 workers, whose wages have risen significantly over the past two years, according to the first edition of the bulletin. And the number of factories operating in the sector reached a record number of 640 in March, compared to 528 in late 2013.

The ILO said the industry's growth compares favourably against predictions that the new minimum wage levels of US$100 (effective 1 February 2014) and $128 (as of 1 January 2015) would lead to smaller export volumes with direct implications on employment levels.

"Workers and their unions are understandably concerned to ensure that wages are adequate to meet the needs of workers and their families," Bussi noted. "On the other hand, it is also vital that the impact of the minimum wage on enterprises, productivity, competitiveness and employment is taken into account."

The ILO said it does not take, or recommend, a specific minimum wage level for Cambodia. Instead, it its "responding to a request to provide technical advice and assistance to the tripartite stakeholders on the basis of sound analytical work anchored to national data," Bussi explained.

The ILO plans to release new issues of the bulletin every quarter.