The Cambodian garment industry is enjoying growth since the much-contested end of the Multi-Fiber Arrangement (MFA) last year, according to a report by ILO Better Factories Cambodia.

The report - 'Cambodian garment industry: One year later' - said Cambodia's garment and textile exports had jumped by nearly 10% in value terms last year, with exports to the US up by just more than 10% in quantity and almost 20% in value.

Between 1 January 2005 and 30 April 2006, almost 30,000 new jobs were created i the sector, bringing the total number of garment workers to 293,600 in April 2006. 

The number of factories increased about 13% in 2005 despite some closures.

"This data is very encouraging," said  Ros Harvey, chief technical advisor for ILO. "We are seeing a steady growth in the sector. However there are still many challenges ahead for the industry."

The ILO research shows that the average wage remained fixed at US$72 per moth, yet represented a 6% decrease in real wage when adjusted for inflation.

The research indicates that prices per piece also fell by 4.47%. "The data reflects a worldwide trend. This is putting added pressure in the Cambodian garment industry," said Harvey.

"We need to build on the successes and further improve labour standards and productivity in the industry. This is not a trade-off."