A planned US quota on garment exports will not be imposed on Jan 1 and negotiations would continue, Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said Monday.
“We’re still negotiating about the quota,” said Cham Prasidh, who is heading the negotiation team. “Nothing has been finalized.”
A US trade delegation is scheduled to visit Cambodia on Jan 21 to continue talks on a limit for garment exports.
“We will be open to giving the delegation opportunities to visit our garment factories to see labor conditions and other situations,” Cham Prasidh said, following a meeting with garment manufacturers on new export procedures.
Factory working conditions have been a controversial issue in the sector. One major US union has called on the US government to withdraw trade privileges for Cambodia because of alleged government interference in unions.
During a meeting Monday with garment manufacturers, Cham Prasidh said the government will establish a new body to monitor factory conditions. “This is the intention of our new government to show that we care about our workers.”
The US announced in October that it wanted export ceilings on cotton sweaters, knit blouses and T-shirts, following a rapid increase in garment exports in the past year.
Cambodia is expected to export $360 million worth of garments in 1998, a 156 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Commerce Ministry. About 75 percent of those exports—worth more than $240 million—are to the US.
Although the quotas will not begin Jan 1, garment exporters will have other new regulations for sending their products to the US.
Beginning next month, nearly all textile exports will have to be accompanied by an export certificate.
The certificates are part of a Cambodia-initiated agreement to prevent garments from being falsely labeled “Made in Cambodia” by foreign manufacturers or factories illegally importing partially finished goods and completing them in Cambodia.
Although some Commerce officials have alleged that the false use of “Made in Cambodia” labels may be behind the sharp increase in exports, Cham Prasidh denied it.