Garment manufacturers from Asean countries recently gathered for a two-day meeting in Phnom Penh to discuss challenges facing the industry and promote region-wide cooperation. The ASEAN Federation of Textile Industries (AFTEX) meeting, organised by Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), is aimed at discussing problems such as how to lower production costs and adding value to products.

AFTEX is a group of textile and garment associations of the 10 ASEAN member countries. Van Sou Leng, GMAC and AFTEX Cambodia President, said that AFTEX has been playing an important role in building collaboration among all garment producing members of Asean to help each other grow in a win-win situation.

“One of the important subjects discussed today is the common stance of AFTEX on the Rule of Origin (ROO) for garments for RCEP (regional comprehensive economic partnership), which is a mega Free Trade Agreement between Asean and China, India, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand,” he said. He said that Asean in the last 10 years has been viewed as a strong regional grouping having performed better economically than any other regions in the world.

Sou Leng said that the region has become an important player in the global textile and apparel industry. However he noted that the garment industry has gone through a lot of changes, particularly recently. “AFTEX is not looking to compete against each other. We are looking to build partnership and collaboration. The good times are not over have only become more challenging,” he said. “It requires smart government policies, innovative ideas of the industry players and collaboration locally and to a larger extent regionally to meet these challenges.”

“The industry has long and complex supply chain, so collaboration among various actors locally and regionally is very important. Since Asean, as an economic community, is looking to create a single production base, AFTEX really has a major role to play to realise this goal,” he added.