Political parties in Cambodia yesterday offered differing takes on the EU’s decision to partially withdraw the Everything-but-arms preferential trade status.
Grassroots Democracy Party secretary-general Sam Inn felt that the decision by the European Commission aims to encourage Prime Minister Hun Sen and former opposition party leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha to hold negotiations to curb political tension.
Mr Inn added that the decision is to reopen space for political dialogue in Cambodia.
“The decision is not harmful to Cambodia because the EU wants political leaders in the Kingdom to rethink and negotiate,” he said. “It is a deep and thoughtful decision by the EU and is based on Cambodia’s political and economic situation.”
Mr Inn also supported the EU decision by saying that it was just.
Pich Sros, Cambodian Youth Party president, said that the decison is a clear message to the government that it needs to reform the investment environment to attract foreign direct investments.
“It is the EU’s right [to partially withdraw the EBA], but to Cambodia, it is a clear message that the government needs to eliminate corruption and encourage a clean and supportive business environment in the Kingdom,” he said.
However, Mr Sros felt that the EU made the decision to mock the government, led by Mr Hun Sen’s party.
“The EU wants to mock Mr Hun Sen’s government and please a former opposition party,” he added.
Ruling CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said that the decision was to save the EU’s face on the world stage but the government won’t bow down to any pressure.
“The CPP has prepared for the worst-case senario of a 100 percent withdrawal of EBA,” he said. “We don’t need to bow down to their demands as we have already worked out some solutions.”
Mr Eysan felt that the decision is a win-win solution for Cambodia and the European Commission.
“The EU has saved her face and at the same time did not cause a serious impact on the Cambodian economy so it is a win-win solution to keep [a good] relationship between both sides,” he said. “But I regard the decision as unjust and politically-motivated, rather than fact-based.”
Mr Eysan noted that the ruling party won’t hold negotiations with former opposition party leaders or interfere in the court procedure in Kem Sokha’s case.
“The negotiation between Samdech Hun Sen and rebel leader Sam Rainsy won’t happen and no one can interfere in the court case because Cambodia practises the rule of law.”
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said yesterday that the government needs to create an open space for free and just elections in 2022 and 2023.
The European Union on Wednesday announced the partial removal of the EBA after it deemed Cambodia has not done enough to mitigate serious and systematic violations of human 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 European Commission said in a statement.
It said the EC 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.
Some selected garment and footwear products, and all travel goods and sugar are in the list of tax to EU’s market.