The European Union today announced to partially remove the Kingdom’s Everything-but-arms trade status over serious human and labour rights violations.
In its statement today, the EC said it has decided to partially withdraw the tariff preferences due to the serious and systematic violations of the human rights principles enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“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 EC said in the statement.
It noted that the withdrawal amounts to around one-fifth, or €1 billion of Cambodia’s yearly exports to the EU. Unless the European Parliament and the Council object, this will take effect on August, it added.
Josep Borrell, EC Vice-President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said in the statement that the decision reflects the EC’s strong commitment to the Cambodian people, their rights, and the country’s sustainable development.
“The duration, scale and impact of Cambodia’s violations of the rights to political participation and to the freedoms of expression and association left the European Union with no other choice than to partially withdraw trade preferences,” he said.
“The European Union will not stand and watch as democracy is eroded, human rights curtailed, and free debate silenced,” he added.
On Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on the people to stand up, saying the Kingdom “must not bow our heads to such pressure”.
“I will not exchange the Kingdom’s independence and sovereignty for any aid or preferential trade scheme,” Mr Hun Sen said. “Cambodia must be a peaceful country. Every citizen must stand up and fight for peace, sovereignty and stability.”
The EBA scheme allows Kingdom goods to enter the EU market 99 percent tariff-free.
The loss of the EBA is predicted to cost Cambodia millions, along with risking the jobs of the 800,000 Cambodians employed in the garment and textile manufacturing sector.