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Cambodia's industry loses 275 mln USD due to outlawed protests

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's garment and shoe industry has lost roughly 275 million U.S. dollars due to outlawed garment strikes in the past two weeks, Van Sou Ieng, President of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), said Monday.

"Due to the production stoppage, the loss on sales is estimated at 200 million U.S. dollars and the real damage to property destruction is calculated roughly 75 million U.S. dollars, " he said in a press conference.

He said the illegal garment protests in the past two weeks that led to the closure of all factories in the country have scared new investors and put the current garment manufacturers at risk.

"Buyers are preparing to sue factories for non-deliveries or to cancel their orders," he said, predicting that buyers might also reduce their purchase orders between 20 percent and 30 percent this year in the aftermath of the protests.

The garment and shoe industry comprise more than 900 factories with about 600,000 workers. The sector is the kingdom's largest foreign exchange earner that generated 5 billion U.S. dollars in revenues last year.

The Southeast Asian nation had closed all factories since Dec. 25 in fears of security and safety issues after thousands of striking workers demanding higher wages had blocked roads and destroyed factories' properties.

On Friday, there was a deadly clash between the police and striking garment workers on a street on the outskirts of capital Phnom Penh, leaving four protesters shot dead, 26 injured and 11 others arrested.

A day later, the government banned all forms of demonstrations and cleared hundreds of pro-opposition's demonstrators from the capital Phnom Penh's Freedom Park, where they had been protesting for three straight weeks against the Prime Minister Hun Sen's government.

Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said Monday that most of the factories have been reopened on Monday after the government has taken serious measures on all forms of illegal protests.

"About 849 out of the country's 909 garment and shoe factories have been reopened today, and some 80 percent of the workers have returned to work," he told Xinhua.

"The situation has almost returned to normal," he said. " There is not any protest this Monday."

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