A delegation of Cambodian textile and clothing companies has visited Vietnam in a bid to forge business relationships with Vietnamese firms and look at ways of developing the country's apparel industry.

"We are very impressed by textile and apparel development in Vietnam in the past five years," said Ath Thorn, chairman of the Cambodia Association of Textile and Apparel which arranged the visit.

"Cambodia wants to cooperate with Vietnam in many aspects, especially cotton farming, fabric supply and equipment."

Even though Cambodia's garment exports increased by 12% in the first half of this year, helped by its low costs and focus on labour standards, the industry is held back by inadequate material supplies, lack of design skills, poor competitiveness compared with other countries in the region, and few professional workers in key areas like dyeing.

Cambodian authorities are currently trying to lure foreign investors and set up design institutes and training schools to tackle the industry's skills shortage.

But Ath hopes the government will also learn lessons from Vietnam and pass labour and investment policies that promote the industry's growth and development.

By Ngo Tuan.