Friday, March 20, 2009

Cambodia tries alternative products to offset impact of financial crisis

PHNOM PENH, Mar. 20, 2009 (Xinhua News Agency) -- Cambodia is trying to manufacture alternative products with local investment and raw materials so as to offset the impact of the global financial crisis, national media said on Friday.

"We still have potential in the agriculture sector for basic development," Khmer-language daily newspaper The Island of Peace quoted Suy Sem, Minister of Industry, Mine and Energy, as saying.

Besides, 548 large-scale factories and 2,800 small- and medium- sized ones can also help counter the crisis, he said.

These factories have employed 471,539 laborers, or 15 percent of the total labor force of the country, he added.

Meanwhile, the minister admitted that the crisis has seriously hurt Cambodia's garment industry, with 82 factories closed and some 50,000 workers unemployed so far.

As the kingdom's foremost pillar industry, garment exports increased by 7 percent on annual basis in the past years, but decreased by 2 percent in 2008, he said, added that the situation is compelling Cambodia to find alternative products to guarantee sustainable growth of its economy.

Garment exports used to account for 70 percent of the kingdom's annual export volumes.

The industry employed around 300,000 people and had over 300 factories nationwide at its peak times.

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