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EU to suspend some of Cambodia trade benefits over human rights

EPA-EFE/KITH SEREY
Cambodian protesters and police officers stand outside of National Olympic stadium during a International Women's Day rally in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 08 March 2019.

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The European Union will partially suspend the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade privileges Cambodia is enjoying because of systematic violations of human rights, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
Cambodia will lose about 20% of the preferential rights it enjoys under EBA, which accounts for around €1 billion of Cambodia’s yearly exports to the EU, but will still receive support on the diversification of its exports so that emerging industries continue to enjoy duty-free, quota-free access to the bloc.
The withdrawal will come into effect on 12 August 2020 unless the European Parliament and the Council object to the decision.
“The European Union will not stand and watch as democracy is eroded, human rights curtailed, and free debate silenced,” EU’s Foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement, with Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan adding that “the respect for human rights is non-negotiable” for the bloc.
Land-grabbing, labour rights and political repression are the long-standing problems in Cambodia, as the European Commission identified them in 2019. The EU executive said in a report on Tuesday that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government had cracked down on opposition, civil society groups and the media over the past three years.
The Union holds the right to withdraw EBA benefits in case of a ‘serious and systematic violation’ of the International Labour Organisation principles, on which EBA is compliant. The EBA scheme was established in 2001 and gives to 48 of the world’s poorest countries duty-free access to EU markets.
 

 
 
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