At least 106 garment and shoe factories were closed last year, mostly because of a slump in Cambodia's key export industry, forcing more than 45,000 workers out of employment, local media reported on Wednesday, citing figures from the Ministry of Labour.
Oum Mean, secretary of state at the ministry, was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying that 66 additional factories had suspended operations over the same period, temporarily affecting an additional 38,124 workers.
"At the same time, we also saw 48 new established factories that employed 16,886 workers," he said, adding that the government trained 40,000 unemployed garment workers in agriculture up to October.
The Ministry of Labour said that at the end of September last year, 130 garment factories closed or suspended operations in Cambodia in the first three quarters, meaning an additional 42 factories had shut down from October to the end of December.
Just over 30,000 garment workers were made redundant last year up to the end of September. Evidence so far has suggested that openings and closures were about the same, according to Oum Mean.
However, a representative of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) said that the sector is far from recovery. GMAC Secretary General Ken Loo pointed out that shipments were still down after dismal figures for the last quarter of 2008.
Cambodia's garment sector is regarded as the first largest earning income for the country's revenue.