Phnom Penh: A shortage of workers in Vietnam – a huge beneficiary of the US trade war with China – is getting severe that some furniture makers are now scouting Cambodia and Bangladesh for factories, said the CEO of Haverty Furniture Co, Clarence Smith.
Smith told Bloomberg on Thursday that labour rates in Vietnam are rising and workers are getting increasingly scarce. Haverty Furniture uses Asian factories to make its company-branded products.
Even though Asian suppliers continue to source much of the timber they use from the Appalachian region of the US, the manufacturing of wood furniture “is not coming back to the US”, Smith said.
Bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US was one of the Trump administration’s stated goals in imposing tariffs on Chinese-made goods.
For now, most of the disruption is behind them even if the first phase of the US-China trade deal will keep the 25% tariffs on Chinese-made furniture in place, Smith said.
Haverty still imports leather and upholstered pieces from China, although it no longer gets any wood furniture from the country.
The factory relocations aren’t going to end. “They’re already building plants in Cambodia. It’s moving just like it’s always moved, ” he said.
Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay said on Thursday it is a good sign and we welcome investors from the US and other from around the world who seek to invest in Cambodia.
“It is good news. All relevant government institutions and the ministry will provide them with all the help they require to set up businesses in Cambodia. We will help to facilitate their queries and assist them in every way, ” he said.
Thay said as for Cambodia’s trade with the US, it has gotten better even though there remain some issues. “I don’t have US investor figures, but we see major companies from the US and Japan coming in, ” he said. — The Phnom Penh Post (Cambodia)