Cambodian garment and textile exports which generate $6 bn annually and country’s biggest export by far, fuelling years of growth. EU countries accounted for around 40 per cent of Cambodia’s exports in 2016 while the United States accounted for a further 20 per cent. China took little over 6 per cent. As Cambodia’s access to vital European Union (EU) trade preferences could be under threat after the main opposition party was dissolved last month. Cambodian garment makers recently urged international buyers not to turn away from the country.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), appealed to all of their international buyers to continue their support (for) Cambodia and their member factories to materialise their economic goal which is the improved well-being of all the Cambodian people. GMAC represents 600 factories that employ around 700,000 workers. The factory work had lifted millions of people out of poverty in the Southeast Asian nation.

Hun Sen, who has been courting garment workers in the lead-up to the 2018 general election, has said that workers would be the ones to suffer if the EU withdraws preferential trade terms. The importance of the EU and the US for Cambodia’s exports ultimately gives them major leverage. Global brands have also come under greater scrutiny over their supply chains.

Iñigo Sáenz Maestre, Press Officer of Sweden’s H&M group, one of the biggest buyers from Cambodia, said that they are concerned about the recent developments in the country. Kaing Monika, Deputy Secretary General of the GMAC, said that he was unaware of any buyers turning away from Cambodia and factories. An executive at the Malaysian-owned 8 Star Sportswear Ltd factory who declined to be identified said that they just got new order for next year. The factory produces garments for Gap Inc, among other customers.