Cambodia and Canada have extended a garment export agreement through 2004 that will increase the amount of textiles Cambodia can send to Canada to 11 percent.
Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh and Canadian Ambassador Normand Mailhot signed the papers Thursday. The memorandum of understanding extends an agreement first signed in 1995, which established the quota at 6 percent.
“We want to export as much as possible,” Cham Prasidh said. “We do not want the garment factories to slow down.”
Cambodian commerce officials are concerned that the slowdown in the US economy will mean less business for Cambodian garment manufacturers. Mailhot said Canada’s export agreement with Cambodia is similar to the US garment quota system, except that it does not link improvements in Cambodian working conditions to exports.
He said issues such as workers’ rights and conditions inside factories are very important to Canada, too—but are dealt with in other venues. Mailhot said the agreement increases the amount of textiles Cambodia can export to Canada and, starting in January of 2002, will allow Cambodian officials to deal directly with Canadian importers.
The Canadian market, though a fraction of the US market, grew significantly the first three months of 2001, Cham Prasidh said. In the five years prior to 2001, Cambodian exports to Canada totaled $1.7 million. In the first quarter of 2001, exports totaled $1 million. By comparison, Cambodia exported $236 million in garments to the US during the first quarter of 2001; $59.4 million to European Union countries; and $3.4 million to other countries.