Asean emerging as key textiles hub: industry body

Garment workers at a factory in Kandal's Ang Snoul district earlier this year. - PPP

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/Asia News Network): The Asean region is collectively emerging as a major global supplier of textile-related goods, in a market traditionally dominated by mainland China and other players, according to Asean Federation of Textile Industries (AFTEX) chairman Albert Tan.

Tan, who is also deputy chairman of Cambodian AFTEX member Textile, Apparel, Footwear and Travel Goods Association in Cambodia (TAFTAC), was speaking at the AFTEX 49th Council Meeting and 47th Plenary Session in Siem Reap, held from June 1-2.

The textile-linked industries are a linchpin of many Asean economies and operate in highly competitive markets, he stressed.

“So far, our region has performed well in terms of capturing more global market share, serving as an alternative source of supply to China and some other key supplying countries,” he said.

Tan highlighted that over the past decade, the overall gap between production costs, which primarily include raw materials, labour, logistics and compliance, and FOB (free-on-board) and retail pricing has narrowed. He expects this trend to continue into the next decade.

“Keeping these costs competitively low is extremely difficult, while having price increases from the buyers and brands looks impossible, unless we can offer something special. What’s special about AFTEX? Let’s spend the day in serious discussions to bring about something meaningful and valuable for AFTEX’s future.

“Of course, AFTEX members might compete in some areas, in some shapes or forms, but surely there are areas that we need to work together on to be strong as a region and deal with changing global market forces,” he said.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economist Ky Sereyvath, stressed that these industries continue to be highly competitive and appealing in the kingdom as well as in many of the other nine Asean countries due to their capacity to generate jobs and drive the economy.

Exports from the industry to the US and Europe have, however, slowed down as a result of economic turbulence, he lamented.

“We can see that the industries have played a vital role in the economy and livelihood of the populations of several Asean nations, including Cambodia. To encourage further investment in our country, the government has been treating the industry quite nicely by offering some tax breaks,” Sereyvath said.

The AFTEX 49th Council Meeting and 47th Plenary Session was attended by representatives of member organisations from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

These organisations reaffirmed their commitments to work together in the Asean spirit and speak with a unified voice on behalf of the Southeast Asian region’s textile and apparel sectors.

Participants put together a list of projects and work plans for the coming months under Cambodia’s chairmanship, in a bid to consolidate AFTEX’s roles and spur growth of Asean’s textile and apparel industries.

Cambodia earned $1.395 billion from the export of “articles of apparel, knit or crocheted” in the first four months of 2023, down 28.49 per cent year-on-year and down 40.80 per cent half-on-half (compared to July-October 2022), according to provisional Customs (GDCE) data.

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Cambodia , garment , workers , Asean


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