A senior official of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) said that after concerns were raised by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) regarding the alleged abuse of labor principles, the commission for manufacturing subcontract management in the garment and textile industry began an investigation into the business agreements.
More than 1,000 well-known brands, retailers, and manufacturers are represented by AAFA. It is the respected public and political voice of the apparel and footwear industry, headquartered in Washington, DC, and with a presence all over the world.
Talking to Khmer Times yesterday, an According to a MoC official, the commission met for the first time with representatives of the US-based association, AAFA, on Thursday of last week to discuss their concerns regarding potential instances of labor law abuse in the implementation of manufacturing subcontracts between foreign buyers and manufacturers in Cambodia.
Sok Sopheak, MoC’s Secretary of State, told Khmer Times that the commission arranged meetings to address AAFA is worried that countries that are the markets for its members may practice forced, unclean, or underage labor, among other prohibited labor practices.
“We would go there to look through documents, conduct the necessary research, and question manufacturers so they could respond to our questions and show us that they did not break the law. Sopheak, who also serves as the head of the commission for managing subcontracts in the apparel and textile sector, stated that we would give the AAFA clarifications.
Sopheak also made note of the fact that AAFA is made up of a large number of members who are multinational corporations and importers of apparel, textile, and footwear goods from various countries around the world. “They usually buy these goods from places for profits,” said Officials from other ministries were present at the meeting, which was presided over by Sopheak.
Officials from the Ministries of Labor and Vocational Training, Interior, General Department of Prisons, Correctional Centers 1 and 2, and numerous other members of the commission for manufacturing sub-contract management in the garment and textile industries in Cambodia were present at the first meeting with the representatives of AAFA.
“We would check suspicious areas by going down there. With just one visit, we cannot draw any conclusions. Depending on pertinent documents, such as subcontracts, there are procedures to follow. All these cannot be revealed to the news consumption as they are procedures to be followed for investigation,” Sopheak spoke cautiously.
According to Sopheak, subcontracting is the process of entering into a legal agreement between an individual or group that needs outside help or outsources the production of goods for their customers or customers and an individual or group that offers that help or outsourcing for a set period of time at a fixed cost that is outlined in the civil code.
“They are worried about labor that is forced, unclean, underage, or otherwise prohibited by the relevant laws, as well as its potential involvement in production for export or import. They are our buyers, but if the goods are manufactured in unhygienic conditions, they would not make purchases from us as they represent importers from most places in the world,” he said.
AAFA employs over three million people in the US and generates $470 billion in retail sales here each year. It extends all the way around the world, starting in Washington, DC.
To assist its members in navigating the complex regulatory environment and minimizing costs, AAFA offers unique expertise and promotes advancement in the areas of supply chain management, sourcing, trade, logistics, and manufacturing. Members have unmatched access to information, insider knowledge of law and policy, and the best chances to collaborate and network.
According to a statement made by the MoC on Friday of last week, the outcomes of the first meeting would be compiled into a report and given to Sar Kheng, the deputy prime minister, minister of the interior, and minister of labor and vocational training. The statement also stated that the investigation’s findings would be presented at the commission’s upcoming meetings.
“Members of the commission have participated in responding to challenges and suggestions with high responsibility in consistence with the policy of the government that prohibits employing labour of imprisoned persons to manufacture goods for export,” the release pointed out, adding that a protocol will be prepared for the commission to comply with the future needs.
The apparel and footwear industry is in desperate need of change, and AAFA is leading the charge. On important legislative and regulatory issues, AAFA speaks with unity and integrity. In order to promote best practices and innovation, AAFA provides a collaborative forum. The extensive work of AAFA ensures the industry’s success and growth, as well as that of its suppliers and clients.
“For instance, I’d like to buy some rice paddy from someone, but that person intimidates farmers and wants to sell me their rice paddy. If I am aware of these actions, I would not want to make profit from such actions of doing business because I want to make profits from the sale of goods that are clean and fairly produced with integrity,” Sopheak said.