Cambodia: Between COVID-19 and EBA Withdrawal

For Cambodia, the impact of COVID-19 is similar to a simulation of the withdrawal of the EU-driven Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme. If EBA is withdrawn, it would be “a nail in the coffin” of the already dying garment industry, the country’s biggest employer, writes Sim Vireak.

Back in December 2019, the IMF warned that the withdrawal of the European Union’s trade preferences under the Everything But Arms scheme from Cambodia would cause a decline of exports to the EU of about 13%, and a 3 percentage point decline in GDP growth, without prejudice to other indirect effects.

In terms of jobs, an estimate was made that in the vital garment sector, 43% of workers (nearly 225,000 people) plus 20% of workers in footwear factories (more than 20,000 people) would become unemployed.

This projection is becoming reality but not because of the actual EBA withdrawal but due to the global epidemiological and economic crisis unleashed by COVID-19.

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