The competitiveness of the Cambodian garment industry has been related to the deepening of preferential access, made possible by early commitment to ILO labour standards. However, this competitive edge has been eroded and is now under pressure. There are policy concerns on whether the standards spectrum and associated tripartite arrangements should be broadened across products and, therefore, markets. Rather than raising the labour standards bar to maintain a market niche (which is eroded over time), first mover advantage could be sought in other products and markets. This note explores why the latter strategy might prove more effective than the former at the current time.
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