The industry body representing Cambodia's garment sector is understood to have submitted a petition to the US Government asking for an extension to the duty-free privileges of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme to include footwear.

The move, it says, could boost the industry's competitiveness by giving local manufacturers an advantage in the world's biggest consumer market, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

The petition from the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) comes as the US is set to discuss both the annual renewal of its GSP scheme by the end of this year and the GSP Footwear Act of 2017, which was introduced to the US House of Representatives in May.

"GMAC strongly believes that this petition would receive positive responses from the US government in consideration of our continuous improvement in working conditions, especially the improvement in wage payment leading to further upgrading of the welfare of our workers," the announcement said.

"If [the bill] is successful, it would tremendously help the Cambodian economy in terms of export growth, new investment and employment for thousands of Cambodians."

There are around 59 dedicated footwear manufacturers in Cambodia that produced an export value of US$700m last year. However less than 10% of this went to US buyers, with the vast majority heading to European and Japanese markets.