ITC Deputy Executive Director speaks at last Silk Sector Steering Committee meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
ITC has been assisting the Cambodian silk sector since 2005 and this work took part in two phases. The second phase started in March 2010 and is finishing today with the meeting in Phnom Penh. Today’s final Silk Sector Steering Committee meeting takes stock of the achievements of the second phase of the Silk Project whilst also noting that its achievements are partially rooted in work carried out during the project’s first phase, meaning that the positive results – that all targets for the project were successfully met on time - reflect ITC’s long-standing efforts in support of the Cambodian silk sector.
At the meeting Mr. Jean-Marie Paugam, ITC Deputy Executive Director, thanked the New Zealand Aid Programme for their financial support and cooperation and also the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce for their support and leadership as well as ITC’s project partners, in particular the Khmer Silk Villages for the outstanding work implemented on the ground.
He pointed out that although the industry is small with about 20,000 Cambodians, most of the weavers are women who carry out their craft in rural areas meaning that they play an important role in achieving Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goals, particularly in terms of poverty reduction and economic empowerment of women.
Mr. Paugam noted the uncertainty in the global economic climate but encouraged Cambodia to further develop its silk sector. He affirmed that ITC has and will continue to support the Ministry of Commerce in its efforts to diversify export products and markets. He acknowledged that whilst the silk sector is currently far from being a dominant force in Cambodia’s economy and export basket, ITC believes that Cambodia has the potential and all the productive factors to become a major player in silk. He added that in the long run the sector could generate thousands of additional jobs and that silk products could become a major economic output.
He encouraged the Cambodian Ministry of Trade and the plans to create a Silk Board. He suggested that the board should consolidate progress accomplished thus far and provide impetus and ideas on ways in which the Government can develop a supportive and enabling environment for an accelerated development of the sector.