European Union announces partial suspension of Cambodia’s trade benefits

The European Commission on February 12 formally announced that Cambodia will be partially removed from a preferential trade scheme.

The decision came after the commission came to the conclusion that country’s government has not done enough to mitigate serious and systematic violations of human rights.

The move, which was widely expected, comes as a heavy blow for the country’s export-driven economy which counts Europe as its largest and most lucrative market.

“The withdrawal of tariff preferences – and their replacement with the EU’s standard tariffs – will affect selected garment and footwear products and all travel goods and sugar,” the European Commission said in a statement.

“The will not stand and watch as democracy is eroded, human rights curtailed and free debate silenced. Today’s decision reflects our strong commitment to the Cambodian people, their rights and the country’s sustainable development,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, added.

Exports to the EU expected to shrink by a fifth

The EU’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme helped Cambodia’s exports to European markets surge by almost 600 per cent since it joined the scheme in 2012, according to EU figures. In 2018, Cambodia exported some $5.9 billion worth of goods to the EU, up from $5.5 billion in 2017.

The loss of the EBA will likely cost Cambodia dearly in export income, along with risking the jobs of the 800,000 Cambodians employed in the garment and textile manufacturing sector. The EU statement said the withdrawal amounts to about $1.1 billion, of Cambodia’s yearly exports to the EU.

The decision is still subject to approval by the European Parliament and the Council and, if approved, will take effect on August 12, 2020.

In a first reaction, Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement, saying that the EU’s decision was “unjust and politically motivated.”

Cambodia’s foreign ministry: “Double standards”

“Despite grounding on the EU’s values and principles of human rights and democracy, the decision is politically driven and is devoid of objectivity and impartiality, two fundamental principles which are to be expected from the European Commission as a supra-national body. The decision is nothing less than the application of a double standard when it comes to the EU’s preferential practices with other trading nations,” the ministry said.

“The Government remains firm in its principled position in rejecting any attempt by external parties in their use of trade and development assistance as pretexts to justify their interference in Cambodia’s internal affairs,” it said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the country “must not bow our heads to such pressure”.

“I will not exchange Cambodia’s independence and sovereignty for any aid or preferential trade scheme. Cambodia must be a peaceful country. Every citizen must stand up and fight for peace, sovereignty and stability,” he added.



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The European Commission on February 12 formally announced that Cambodia will be partially removed from a preferential trade scheme. The decision came after the commission came to the conclusion that country’s government has not done enough to mitigate serious and systematic violations of human rights. The move, which was widely expected, comes as a heavy blow for the country’s export-driven economy which counts Europe as its largest and most lucrative market. “The withdrawal of tariff preferences – and their replacement with the EU’s standard tariffs – will affect selected garment and footwear products and all travel goods and sugar,” the...

The European Commission on February 12 formally announced that Cambodia will be partially removed from a preferential trade scheme.

The decision came after the commission came to the conclusion that country’s government has not done enough to mitigate serious and systematic violations of human rights.

The move, which was widely expected, comes as a heavy blow for the country’s export-driven economy which counts Europe as its largest and most lucrative market.

“The withdrawal of tariff preferences – and their replacement with the EU’s standard tariffs – will affect selected garment and footwear products and all travel goods and sugar,” the European Commission said in a statement.

“The will not stand and watch as democracy is eroded, human rights curtailed and free debate silenced. Today’s decision reflects our strong commitment to the Cambodian people, their rights and the country’s sustainable development,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, added.

Exports to the EU expected to shrink by a fifth

The EU’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme helped Cambodia’s exports to European markets surge by almost 600 per cent since it joined the scheme in 2012, according to EU figures. In 2018, Cambodia exported some $5.9 billion worth of goods to the EU, up from $5.5 billion in 2017.

The loss of the EBA will likely cost Cambodia dearly in export income, along with risking the jobs of the 800,000 Cambodians employed in the garment and textile manufacturing sector. The EU statement said the withdrawal amounts to about $1.1 billion, of Cambodia’s yearly exports to the EU.

The decision is still subject to approval by the European Parliament and the Council and, if approved, will take effect on August 12, 2020.

In a first reaction, Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement, saying that the EU’s decision was “unjust and politically motivated.”

Cambodia’s foreign ministry: “Double standards”

“Despite grounding on the EU’s values and principles of human rights and democracy, the decision is politically driven and is devoid of objectivity and impartiality, two fundamental principles which are to be expected from the European Commission as a supra-national body. The decision is nothing less than the application of a double standard when it comes to the EU’s preferential practices with other trading nations,” the ministry said.

“The Government remains firm in its principled position in rejecting any attempt by external parties in their use of trade and development assistance as pretexts to justify their interference in Cambodia’s internal affairs,” it said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the country “must not bow our heads to such pressure”.

“I will not exchange Cambodia’s independence and sovereignty for any aid or preferential trade scheme. Cambodia must be a peaceful country. Every citizen must stand up and fight for peace, sovereignty and stability,” he added.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $10.00

 

 

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