Cambodian Garment Industry Unraveling

Country's top export sector by value expects to see a decline of orders from American retailers amid fear of a slowdown in the U.S. economy.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) β€” Cambodia's garment industry expects to see a decline of orders from American retailers amid fear of a slowdown in the U.S. economy, a Cabinet minister said Tuesday, as he warned the country's top export sector by value faces tough times.
 
''I am concerned that our garment sector would face some problems,'' Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said. ''Now that the U.S. economy may head into a decline, purchasing orders from U.S. retailers may also decrease.''
 
He said last year's garment exports to the U.S. were worth more than US$1.9 billion (euro1.3 billion). The figure represents about two-thirds of Cambodia's total exports of clothing products in 2007, Cham Prasidh said.
 
Anti-dumping measures the U.S. has imposed on the import of Chinese goods have so far helped sustain Cambodia's garment export industry.
 
But at the end of 2008, the U.S. will phase out the measures against China as well as a monitoring mechanism on imports from Vietnam, another competitor, compounding pressure on the Cambodian garment industry, Cham Prasidh said at a press conference Tuesday.
 
''Competing for that market has not been an easy task,'' he said.
 
Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, agreed that the industry is facing ''a very difficult'' time and ''stiffer competition'' ahead.
 
Cambodia currently has 300 garment factories that employ 355,000 workers.
 
Cambodia ranks 12th among the 25 top countries from which the U.S. imports textile products, according the U.S. Census Bureau.
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