Experts urge garment industry to stay competitive

June 20, 2019, 2:46 p.m.

Industry 4.0 conference

Cambodia’s garment industry still holds a promising position, despite worries over automation and international trade disputes, sector insiders said this week.

However, many commenters claimed that competitiveness still needs to be boosted to increase orders. According to a real estate expert, on the other hand, demand and price are both up for warehouses and commercial land in the Kingdom.

John Cha, an executive committee member of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), said on Wednesday that staying competitive is the foremost priority. Cha addressed industry figures at a seminar dubbed “Industry 4.0: The Future of the Garment Sector”.

“As long as we make ourselves more cost-effective, [the garment industry] will still be able to compete in the global marketplace,” he told reporters.

Cha added that the government has spearheaded several initiatives aimed at lower the cost of doing business in Cambodia. These include measures to lower the costs of electricity, logistics and inspection fees.

“When we get more orders, we need more workers. We are more automated now than 20 years ago when everything was done manually. Automation is not removing the workers.”

Responding to a question regarding the withdrawal of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) trade preference scheme, Cha said the industry will survive it competition becomes the focus.

“We build our advantages in terms of costs, in terms of logistics, in terms of other challenges that confront our industry … whether or not EBA is withdrawn or not, we must make ourselves more competitive. We have to do it every day, every month, and every year.”

Demand for industrial space on the rise

Cha added that garment sector numbers are accelerating despite any worries. He said the country’s garment and footwear exports were valued at $10 billion last year, up 24 percent from 2017.

Reflecting on any effects being felt in the real estate market, Key Real Estate founder Sorn Seap told that demand and rental prices are still on the rise for both commercial and industrial spaces.

“Currently, there are no negative signs. The demand for warehouses and factory land is still strong. In fact, the demand is still increasing and rental fees are also up,” he said. 

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