Cambodia shrugs off EU trade benefit concerns

The European Commission last month gave the Cambodian government a one-month deadline to respond to its findings on the alleged human rights situation in the country before it decides whether it is pulling its duty-free trade benefit.

Cambodia is the second-largest beneficiary of Everything But Arms trade preferences, accounting for over 18% of all imports coming into the EU market under the EBA scheme in 2018. EU imports from Cambodia totalled EUR5.3bn in 2018, 95% of which took advantage of EBA preferences. Clothing and textiles account for around three-quarters of EU imports from Cambodia at EUR4bn.

In February the EU Commission started the process that could lead to a temporary suspension of Cambodia’s preferential tariff arrangements under the EBA trade scheme. EBA preferences can be removed if beneficiary countries fail to respect core human rights and labour rights – and the EU has for some time been concerned about human rights violations in Cambodia.

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