Asia - Pacific

Cambodia expects EU to respect principle of sovereignty

Cambodia hands over final response to EU Commission procedure for temporary withdrawal of tariff preferences

Zehra Nur Düz   | 12.12.2019
Cambodia expects EU to respect principle of sovereignty


Cambodia expressed hope Thursday that the EU Commission will respect principles of sovereignty and non-interference regarding Cambodia’s internal affairs.  

Cambodia handed over Thursday its final response to the EU Commission’s preliminary report on the procedure for the temporary withdrawal of tariff preferences provided to Cambodia under the Everything But Arms (EBA) arrangement.

“The Royal Government expects that the EU Commission will take into consideration the government’s good faith efforts to implement all the relevant international conventions under the Everything But Arms (EBA) regulations,” Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It asked the Commission to pay regards to the potential social impact of nearly 1 million female workers and the indirect effect on families and relatives supported by these workers’ wages.

It stressed the Final Response is a comprehensive report on the actions and measures undertaken by Cambodia to respond to all the areas of concerns of the EU Commission, in particular with respect to the right to political participation, land right, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

The Commission finalized its preliminary report on temporary suspension of trade preferences Nov.12, and sent it to Cambodian authorities.

In it, the Commission outlined findings of an investigation triggered in February 2019 under the procedure for a possible temporary withdrawal of Everything But Arms (EBA) trade preferences.

The Everything But Arms arrangement is one pillar of the EU's Generalized Scheme of Preferences, according to a statement released by EU Commission on Nov.12.   

The Scheme unilaterally grants duty-free and quota-free access to European market for all products, except arms and ammunition, from the world's Least Developed Countries, as defined by the United Nations, according to a statement.

Trade preferences may be suspended in case of "serious and systematic violation of principles" laid down in the human rights and labor rights conventions listed in Annex VIII of the GSP Regulation, according to the statement.

Cambodia is the second-largest beneficiary of EBA trade preferences, accounting for more than 18% of all imports coming into the EU market under the EBA scheme in 2018.

The Commission will finalize the report and make a decision in February whether to temporarily withdraw Cambodia’s tariff preferences.  

The aim of the procedure is to address human rights and labor rights concerns in Cambodia.

While the European Union remains committed to working with the Cambodian authorities, real and credible improvement on the issues of concern is needed to avoid the withdrawal of EBA preferences.

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