Cambodia’s reliance on imported textile and fabric to fuel its garment exports has benefitted neighbouring countries. Promotion and investments in textile/fabric production are almost nonexistent in Cambodia.
Cambodia’s lack of textile industry to support its burgeoning garment industry has seen neighbouring Thailand’s exports of textiles soaring and is expected to grow by 15 percent. According to the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association released the Thai fabric industry turned a corner in 2021 and has now catapulted back to full capacity.
In the first 11 months of 2021, Thailand exported 64.8 bn baht of garments and 188.6 bn baht of textiles, Thai Garment Manufacturers Association President Yuttana Silpsarnvitch revealed.
Thailand benefited from increased demand for garments from the US due to its trade war with China. Thai textile exports were boosted by demand from apparel-producing territories such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Europe and the US garment factories.
Thailand’s garment and textile factories have returned to 100 percent capacity, but this has triggered a labour shortage after foreign workers returned to their home countries during the Covid-19 crisis. The factories are currently short of 30,000 to 50,000 workers and are dependent on overtime work.
This shortage could lead to a reverse surge of Cambodian migrant workers back to Thailand in search of employment now that the economy and industry is beginning to open up and resume operations to cater to worldwide demand.
Thai Garment Manufacturers Association President Yuttana Silpsarnvitch said demand for Thai garments and textiles were being driven by the trend for environmentally friendly products.
Major brands are ordering products made from recycled fibres, organic cotton and other eco-friendly materials to satisfy customer demand. These items cost about 20 percent more than regular clothes, he said.
Garment Manufacturing Association in Cambodia (GMAC) Deputy Secretary-General, Kang Monika, told, “Cambodia depends on raw materials from countries like China, Taiwan, South Korea, India, Malaysia and Thailand. Cambodia also imports from another 20 to 30 countries for raw materials in small amounts of fabric with high value.”
“But Thailand is one of the main raw material suppliers for the Cambodian garment sector. When there is a high demand from the Cambodian market it increases garment supply from Thailand,” Monika added.
“For the first 10 months of this year, the garment export was valued at $6,538M – an increase of 6 percent compared to last year,” he added.