GENEVA — A recent review of 62 Cambodian garment factories by International Labor Organization monitors found no evidence of forced labor and concluded the industry has made solid progress in improving working conditions.

But the ILO report pointed out that while some of the 62 factories covered in the latest survey made progress, others “appear to have made limited efforts.” Inspectors reported that cases of sexual harassment, child labor, nonpayment of wages and antiunion discrimination continued to appear at a number of facilities.

Cambodia agreed to the monitoring of its facilities by the global labor watchdog body when it signed off on a bilateral textile and apparel accord with the U.S. in January 1999. Only facilities that agreed to be monitored could benefit from the U.S. export quotas. A total of 211 garment enterprises have agreed to be monitored.

Under the pact, Cambodia, which joined the World Trade Organization this year, agreed to comply with core international labor norms in exchange for an annual increase of 18 percent in its U.S. quota allocation.

WTO members are set to drop quotas on textiles and apparel on Jan. 1, which should give Cambodia the potential for strong growth, the report said. With that development, “Ensuring that working conditions and labor relations throughout the sector are generally acceptable is now, more than ever, of the utmost importance,” said the report, noting that “there appears to be an increased interest by buyers to source from Cambodia.”

— John Zarocostas

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