Just Say No To “Gloomy Pits Of Dickensian Misery”

from USA Today: Garment factories in Cambodia, one of the world’s poorest nations, aren’t gloomy pits of Dickensian misery. Instead, Cambodia is seeking to become the rare Third World country to develop economically while treating workers reasonably well.
Under a global trade regime that expired Jan. 1, quotas limited the amount retailers could buy from individual countries. In effect, that system forced companies such as Wal-Mart and Gap to spread orders across dozens of countries.
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The quotas now are gone, leaving retailers free to buy from wherever they want. As a result, China’s share of the U.S. clothing market is projected to jump to 50% from today’s 16%, according to the World Trade Organization.
To carve out a market niche, Cambodia is billing itself as sweatshop-free. In December, a World Bank survey of 15 top buyers ranked its garment industry No. 1 in working conditions. So far, that has helped Cambodia avoid significant losses to China, despite having higher costs.
Cambodia’s sweatshop-free sales pitch is laser-focused on U.S. buyers. Gap is the Southeast Asian country’s largest customer, with purchases last year of about $350 million, according to Ken Loo of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia.
Few countries would seem a less likely worker champion. Under the radical Khmer Rouge regime that ruled from 1975 to 1979, more than 1 million people were literally worked to death in a crazed bid to construct an agrarian utopia.

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About David Burn

Native Nebraskan seeking the perfect pale ale in the Pacific Northwest. Copywriter and brand strategist at Bonehook. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp.