Cambodia garments, possibly losing EU trade status, now hit by coronavirus


At least four textile factories in Cambodia may suspend operations because of delays to the supply of raw materials from China caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the labour ministry said on Monday, reports Reuters. Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said there had been delays in deliveries of garments, yarn, buttons and shoe soles. The garment industry is Cambodia’s largest employer, generating $7 billion for the economy each year.

The European Union will decide on Wednesday whether or not to suspend Cambodia’s special trade preferences over human rights concerns. Cambodia benefits from the EU’s “Everything But Arms” trade programme, which allows the world’s least-developed countries to export most goods to the European Union free of duties.

“If by the second week of March, factories still don’t know when they will be able to get the materials from China, they may suspend for two to three weeks,” Sour told Reuters. Sour said that four factories, which employ around 3,000 workers in total, had expressed their concerns to the government.

Sour declined to provide names of the factories or which brands they supplied. Global clothing and shoe brands, including Adidas (ADSGn.DE), PUMA and Levi Strauss (LEVI.N), have written to Cambodia’s longtime leader, Hun Sen, saying the country’s record on labour and human rights threatens to bring down sanctions on the garments industry.

Cambodia’s only confirmed case of coronavirus, a Chinese national in the coastal city of Sihanoukville, had recovered and left hospital on Monday, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.