By  on July 8, 2014

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Despite months of industry turmoil, garment factory registration in Cambodia increased to 1,200 at the end of June, up 8 percent from the number recorded at the end of 2013, according to data released by the government last week.

The number of industry workers has also increased, to more than 733,300 for the first six months of the year from 677,600 at the end of last year.

The half-yearly figures, released by the newly formed Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts, come amid unrest in the sector spurred by protests over the minimum wage.

Tensions escalated in January when a nationwide strike calling for a rise to the minimum wage to $160 a month turned fatal and five people were killed after police opened fire on protesters.

Calling it a “good sign” for the industry, Mean Sophea, undersecretary of state at the ministry, declined to comment further on the effect the unrest has had on the country’s garment sector.

However, Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, was cautious of the new data, which he said did not account for deregistration or factories leaving. Loo noted that the data reflected business registration only and factories are still cautious about committing to invest in the country following the January protests.

“The rate of growth is slowing down, even though things are still growing,” Loo said.

“There continues to be investors coming into Cambodia, but what’s more important is to ensure that they stay in Cambodia,” he said.

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