A senior official of the Textile, Apparel, Footwear & Travel Goods Association in Cambodia (TAFTAC) expects more imports of raw material from Pakistan to supply the industry, although most of the import is from China.
Pakistan is one of the competitive players in textile and garment production, said Kaing Monika, deputy secretary general of TAFTAC, who just returned from the First ASEAN-Pakistan Business Opportunity Conference 2023 from 7 to 11 August 2023 in Lahore and Karachi.
According to him, TAFTAC and four other Cambodian companies and associations joined the conference held by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan in collaboration with the Pakistan Mission in Indonesia and ASEAN secretariat to promote trade and investment between Pakistan and ASEAN Region.
The delegates from the TEXTILE sector went to Faisalabad business-to-business (B2B) meetings at Faisalabad Chamber followed by factory visits.
“Pakistan is also strong in fabric production especially cotton based fabrics. So far, import of fabrics from Pakistan for garment production is still in small amounts and there is an opportunity to grow more and for further trade between the countries,” Monika said.
Speaking at the 2023 Business Forum organised by the Cambodia Oknha Association (COA) on August 11, Kong Sang, TAFTAC president, said so far, Cambodia has 1,077 factories, of which 802 are garment factories, 140 produce footwear, and 134 make travel goods. Between them, the factories employ a total of 764,358 workers.
Sang also highlighted the general challenges experienced by the garment, footwear and travel goods sectors, and proposed several solutions.
“The garment and travel goods sector still plays a vital role in the Cambodian economy. In 2022, the export value of the sector reached $12.5 billion, equal to nearly 60 per cent of the Kingdom’s total export value, while accounting for 10 per cent of the Cambodian economy,” he said.
In late March, the Ministry of Economy and Finance officially launched the Cambodia Garment, Footwear and Travel Goods [GFT] Sector Development Strategy 2022-2027, with the aim of setting common development goals, establishing independence and developing the sustainability and inclusiveness of the sector.
Chhay Bora, managing director of Bower Group Asia (BGA), a strategic advisory supporting foreign direct investment in the Indo-Pacific region, said the strategy aims to upgrade Cambodia’s apparel production models, diversify raw material sourcing, broaden exports and boost skill development and productivity.
“Businesses should watch out for new opportunities to emerge from Cambodia’s shift to higher-value textiles and apparel. The transition from simple cut, make, trim designs to more complex products that align with consumer trends would require investments in modern technology, technology transfers and skills training. In time, Cambodia’s textile and apparel industry is expected to create more jobs, boost economic growth and improve livelihoods” he added.
In the first half of 2023, exports fell 18 per cent compared to the same period last year due to the downturn of the global economy, TAFTAC stated.
“We predict that the situation would remain stable without notable positive trends due to the economic situation in the US and European countries,” they said.
To ensure its recovery and competitiveness, especially with Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, Sang said it is crucial that five challenges be solved.
“Labour and logistics costs, productivity, trade facilitation, taxes, investment and the development of the industry must all be addressed, along with social and environmental sustainability,” Sang said.