Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Questions raised over garment statistics

Questions raised over garment statistics

Garment factory workers produce items of apparel at a warehouse in Kandal province last year.
Garment factory workers produce items of apparel at a warehouse in Kandal province last year. Heng Chivoan

Questions raised over garment statistics

While Cambodia’s garment sector exhibited solid growth last year, employment levels declined, raising concerns about a potential rise in unregulated subcontracting, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a report released yesterday.

In its sixth bulletin of the Kingdom’s garment sector, the ILO noted that while garment exports increased by 7.2 percent in 2016, the number of officially registered factories fell by 10.4 percent, and total workers declined by 2.9 percent.

The divergence between export growth and employment, according to the bulletin, could be combination of factors that include a rise in the industry’s productivity, statistical problems with measuring factory numbers, and increased production at subcontracting factories.

Regional ILO Director Maurizio Bussi said in a press release accompanying the report that the use of subcontracting could be a cause for alarm because these operations can hide from domestic and international scrutiny.

“A rise in employment and production in subcontracting factories could be a concerning development if subcontracting is being used as a way to undercut regulations, including the Labour Law and the minimum wage,” he said.

The report added that unlike registered exporting factories, subcontractors are not monitored by the ILO’s Better Factories Cambodia programme, and also may receive less attention from national enforcement agencies.

According to the ILO’s figures, which are obtained from the Ministry of Commerce (MoC), employment numbers in the sector fell to 602,129 last year, compared to 622,943 in 2015, representing a nearly 3 percent decline. There were 626 factories in operation as of end-2016, compared to 699 one year earlier.

The report added, however, that the analysis could be skewed due to a statistical recalibration that occurred in the middle of last year when the MoC updated its database and reclassified over 120 inactive garment and footwear factory entries as closed or suspended during the first quarter of 2016.

Newly approved investment into garment factories in 2016 also declined by 34 percent compared to the previous year, totalling $248 million in fixed assets.

“This made 2016 the fourth straight year in which the value of newly approved investments in the garment and footwear sector declined in Cambodia,” the report said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Tensions high ahead of historic Kun Khmer match up

    The long-awaited November 5 matchup between Kun Khmer legend Prum Samnang and Myanmar-Canadian boxer Dave Leduc has become the most anticipated fight of the year. The Wurkz Sena Kun Khmer promotion, which will be held at the Town Arena at Chip Mong 271 Megamall, will see six

  • Manet: Cambodia safe for travel

    Prime Minister Hun Manet acknowledged that Cambodia and China have cooperated to tackle internet scamming, fraud and other cross border crimes, but insisted that the “Kingdom of Wonders” is completely peaceful and safe. He welcomed tourists to come and explore its rich heritage. During a

  • Kep selected for ‘world-class’ 2.7km beach development

    Kep province has been selected as the first site of a new coastal development initiative, with a “world-class” 2.7km beach planned for the near future. The Kep Provincial Administration met with the National Committee for Coastal Management and Development to discuss the development of the

  • UNESCO formally list Battambang gastronomy

    Battambang, renowned for its cultural heritage, has achieved a significant milestone as the first Cambodian municipality to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). The UCCN unites nearly 300 cities prioritising creativity and cultural industries in local development plans and international cooperation. On World Cities Day,

  • Angkor causeway symbol of Cambodia-Japan ties

    In a historic moment marking another milestone in the 70-year-long diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Japan, King Norodom Sihamoni celebrated the formal inauguration of a causeway located to the west of the world-renowned Angkor Wat. While presiding over the November 4 ceremony, the King emphasised the

  • Cambodia pivots to solar, wind energy

    Cambodia is planning a move towards solar and wind energy to meet its rising power demands, according to Minister of Mines and Energy Keo Rottanak. On the sidelines of the Singapore International Energy Week event held recently, Rottanak emphasised the urgency of diversifying Cambodia’s