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Cambodian workers lose jobs as garment indust -

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(generated from captions) the world's poorest countries It is one of is counting the cost and now Cambodia that govern world trade. of new rules the country's biggest export earner, The garment industry, 40,000 workers is collapsing and a staggering have already lost their jobs. at the best of times, In a country where work is scarce are considering desperate ways some unemployed women to raise cash. Lloyd reports from Phnom Penh. South East Asia correspondent Peter

but until a few months ago It was never very much,

in a garment factory Lap Sopheap had a job making clothes

that paid her $65 a month. Now she's out of work and wondering

the rent for this squalored room whether she can still afford poorest neighbourhoods. in one of Phnom Penh's

I have no parents. TRANSLATION: I'm an orphan. I have nowhere to go. I am by myself.

in every dollar Cambodia earned Until last year, 80 cents and selling clothes, came from making mostly to the US and Europe. GAP, Nike, Adidas, Levis.

a 250,000 people, Garment factories employed more than mostly women. But in January, all of that changed.

Cambodia's garment industry World Trade Organisation quotas, was built on the back of strict designed to prevent any single third world country

from dominating the rag trade. But since January, that quota system has come to an end and that means Cambodia must now compete in an open market against far larger rivals like China and India which pay even lower wages than they do here. So with this free trade, what it actually means is

free for corporations to be able to set up operations anywhere in the world where they think would be and what is most benefit to them

is where they're able to make most profit. As they stream home at the end of another working day, these women wonder how long their jobs will last. Already 26 other factories have closed. TRANSLATION: I am worried about it. If the factory closes, I will have no job. I will have to work as a rice farmer again. Now especially Cambodia has become a WTO member, so we have to work competitively with China and it is difficult because China looks after their industry better than us in Cambodia. Speaking up for workers' rights is a dangerous business. Last year, it was Chea Mony's brother who led the union movement until he was gunned down

for campaigning for better pay and conditions in industries like the rag trade. TRANSLATION: In general, I blame the Cambodian Government for not looking after this industry like other countries. They don't care about this industry, who sent disturbed, frankly. I've met kids who have sent but it is the leading industry in Cambodia. disturbed, frankly. I've met kids who have been sent In desperation, some sacked workers are considering selling their virginity. People have approached them and said you can get $250-350, depending on how beautiful you are and how light your skin colour is.

happening,ut I think the TRANSLATION: I don't know how much longer I can stay here, but eventually I will have to move because I can't afford to pay for the rent. In a country where women are so easily exploited, Lap knows she faces an uncertain future. In Phnom Penh, Peter Lloyd for Lateline.