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Cambodia Greenlights New Garment Factories Creating 9,500 Jobs

Cambodia will soon see an influx of more than 9,500 apparel jobs, as the country’s development council has approved eight new projects with garment producers worth $71.4 million.

The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) issued registration certificates to Remstex Fashion, Top Form, New Wide Apparel, General Enterprises and Sortics Alliance to set up factories in the country, making up 8,452 of the new jobs, HRM Asia reported. Cathaya, Hong Cen Max Leather Products and CK Sports have also received approval to hire for projects in the Southeast Asian nation.

The pandemic had mixed impacts on Cambodia’s garment sector during 2020. Worth about $7 billion, apparel and footwear manufacturing represents the country’s largest employer of Cambodian workers. While 100 factories closed due to Covid-19-related factors last year, 221 facilities opened, amounting to 1,853 apparel manufacturing factories at year’s end, and 900,000 jobs. In addition to the impacts of the virus, Cambodia was also affected by flooding in October that put the work of more than 80 of its garment factories on hold, affecting 60,000 workers. The E.U., citing human rights concerns, removed the country from the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) trade arrangement guaranteeing preferential treatment from members in August.

At the time, Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), said the rocky trade relationship exacerbated an already difficult situation. “Some manufacturers are going to find it harder to compete and they will have to see whether they start to produce other products, whether they find other buyers, or find other solutions,” he said.

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Cambodia was hit hard by a wave of the B.1.1.7 Covid variant this spring, as sourcing locales across the globe seemed to be hitting their production stride again. While Cambodia ended 2020 with just 364 confirmed Covid-19 cases and zero deaths, the variant was responsible for more than 18,000 infections by May, with fatalities cresting 100.

As the country emerges from these recent challenges, plans for the new garment factories stand to benefit the apparel sector. Remstex Fashion will create 1,929 jobs worth $6 million in Cambodia’s Takeo province, while Top Form will spend $9.5 million in the Kandal province, bringing 850 garment workers into the fold, according to the Khmer Times. New Wide Apparel will spend $33 million in the same region to create 3,700 new roles, while General Enterprises will employ 937.

In the Kampong Chhanang’s Samaki Meanchey district, Sortics Alliance’s $5.2 million investment will create 1,036 jobs, and Hong Kong Cen Max will spend $2.6 million building out a bag and belt factory that will employ 676 locals. A $2.8 million textile factory funded by Cathaya in Sihanoukville will hire about 170, the publication wrote, and a $5 million footwear and sporting equipment factory by CK Sports stands to provide work for 210 locals.