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Walmart Ups Sourcing in Cambodia Despite Political Unrest

Dispelling any concerns about sourcing in Cambodia in light of the country’s current political unrest, Walmart has said it will increase the products it produces in the southeast Asian nation.

This year, Walmart will ramp up its orders of Cambodian garments and footwear, and will also look to source travel goods made there too, an article in Cambodia’s Khmer Times said Thursday.

“We are Cambodia’s leading exporter of footwear and second leading exporter of apparel. Next year, we hope to begin to export travel products,” a letter written in early December from Walmart to Cambodia’s minister of labor Ith Samheng noted, according to the Khmer Times. “We are happy to share our experience working with other sourcing markets and to help Cambodian manufacturers increase competitiveness, productivity and efficiency.”

During a visit to factories in Cambodia early last month, the Times said officials from Walmart reiterated their satisfaction with Made in Cambodia products and reportedly agreed to increase their orders.

Walmart’s news comes amid concerns about sourcing in Cambodia as its political climate grows increasingly tense.

Ahead of political elections expected this July, tensions between Cambodia’s ruling and opposition parties have become strained, with the current prime minister Hun Sen facing criticism for his role in dissolving the opposition party and banning more than 100 of its members from politics for the next five years, claiming they were collaborating with the U.S. to overthrow the Cambodian government.

But the U.S. is having its own issues with Cambodia, imposing visa sanctions on the country for not allowing those deported from the U.S. to reenter the country.

[Read more about Cambodia’s unrest: Will Cambodia Become a More Challenging Place to Source Apparel?]

Cambodia, however, doesn’t seem much concerned about the political climate impacting the garment sector, and the country’s commerce minister Pan Sorasak has said both U.S. and European buyers have already placed substantial orders for 2018.

Walmart’s commitment comes at a key time for keeping sourcing in Cambodia top of mind as a viable option.

“Walmart’s support improves the business and investment climate in the country and it is great for the nation’s economy,” a statement issued last week by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said, according to the Times. “In addition, it allows us to benefit greatly from their expertise, innovation and technology, and gives us an opportunity to learn how the global apparel and footwear industry operates.”

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