Withdrawal of tariff preferences will affect clothing, footwear, travel goods and sugar and these advantages will be replaced by the standard tariffs of the block, which follow the principle of the “most favored nation” of the World Trade Organization (WTO ), as reported by the European institution in a statement.
Specifically, this measure by the EU affects exports valued at approximately 1 billion euros per year (one fifth of Cambodia’s annual exports to the block) and will enter into force on August 12, 2020, unless the European Parliament or EU governments oppose this decision.
The Community Executive has argued that this is an adequate response to human rights violations in Cambodia, while preserving the objective of supporting the economic development of this country, especially in emerging industries, which will continue to benefit from free access to rights and quotas to the block.
Brussels has taken this decision after a year of “extensive dialogue” with the Cambodian Government and with the country’s stakeholders. Since the EU opened this procedure in February 2019, several meetings have been held with Cambodian authorities both technically and politically.
Although the Commission acknowledges that Cambodia has taken measures on labor rights and land ownership, it has indicated that “serious concerns” still remain regarding civil and criminal cases not resolved against trade unionists. In addition, the European authorities denounce that “there has been no significant progress” in a year regarding civil and political rights.
In this regard, the EU has stressed the need for the Government of Cambodia to “reopen the political space of the country, give way to the necessary conditions for the reestablishment of a credible opposition and initiate a democratic process of national reconciliation through authentic dialogue and inclusive”.
To that end, Brussels stressed, the political rights of the Cambodian opposition have to be restored and laws such as political parties and associations and non-governmental organizations must be repealed or revised.
“For us, respect for Human Rights is non-negotiable. We recognize the progress made by Cambodia, but there are still reasons for concern. Our goal is for the Cambodian authorities to end human rights violations and we will continue working with them to achieve it.” , summarized the Commerce Commissioner, Phil Hogan.