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As the COVID-19 pandemic brings about global economic disruption, Cambodia’s Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak has written to buyers sourcing garments, textiles and travel goods from Cambodia in a bid to preserve the industry.
PHNOM PENH--Cambodia's Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak on Monday urged garment, footwear and travel goods buyers sourcing from Cambodia to abide by their contracts. As factories slow and suspend operations due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Sorsaak asked buyers not to cancel orders that have been placed as goods have already been produced or are currently in production.
“I would like to appeal to our partners – garment, footwear and travel goods buyers sourcing from Cambodia – to stay committed to Cambodia and especially to our workers,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in major disruptions in our lives as well as your businesses and global supply chain, he added.
On April 2, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training said that roughly 61,500 garment workers have been laid off due to the temporary closure of 91 garment factories as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sorasak went on to note that Cambodia was the first country in the world to link trade with labor standards.
“Since 2001, we partnered with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to launch Better Factories Cambodia which required all exporting garment factories in Cambodia to be subjected to monitoring by the ILO to ensure compliance to national laws and international labor standards,” he said.
"We are proud of this initiative and will continue to ensure that the labor and social rights of our workers are upheld while we build a sustainable supply chain," he said, adding that buyers have contributed to the social development of Cambodia and improved the lives of millions of Cambodians.
This comes after the Feb. 12 decision from the European Union to withdraw roughly 20 percent of Cambodia’s access to the Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trading scheme, applying tariffs to €1 billion of trade.
The decision was made after the European Commission determined that there had been a substantial deterioration of labor and human rights in Cambodia which therefore made it ineligible to continue receiving the trade benefits of EBA.
At the time, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, who also serves as the Vice-President of the European Commission said “The duration, scale and impact of Cambodia's violations of the rights to political participation and to the freedoms of expression and association left the European Union with no other choice than to partially withdraw trade preferences.”