Nineteen new garment factories opened in Cambodia in the first quarter this year, creating job opportunities for workers who lost employment due to the world financial crisis, local media reported on Wednesday.
These new factories, on the outskirts of the capital Phnom Penh, will employ 6,069 people, helping to offset the closing of 46 garment factories that led to the loss of 21,400 jobs in the first three months of this year, according to official data from the Ministry of Labor.
"We welcome newly opened factories, because they help create jobs for workers who lost employment when previous factories closed," Oum Mean, secretary of state at the ministry, was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying.
Bun Var, general manager of Jit Textile, one of the factories that reopened, said that he will provide 1,600 jobs this year, but adding that the future of the sector was generally unknowable given current uncertainty. "No one can predict the business lifespan of a new factory," he said.
Meantime, Cheath Khemara, a labor affairs official for the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) predicted that the garment sector's woes would continue indefinitely. "It will be difficult to attract new factories to Cambodia given the current situation," he said, blaming labor strikes for scaring off investors.
Cambodia's garment exports dropped 35 percent in the first quarter of 2009. Exports to the United States were worst hit, down 47 percent compared with same period last year, while those to the European Union (EU) fell 22 percent, according to the earlier figures obtained from the Ministry of Commerce.