Covid and EU duty-free loss a double blow for Cambodia

The Covid-19 pandemic could not have come at a worse time for Cambodia’s garment sector, since it coincides with the partial withdrawal of the country’s duty-free access to the European Union (EU) market.

Cambodia’s clothing sales to the EU – including the UK – plummeted 31% or US$403m in the first six months of this year compared with the same January to June period in 2019.

This apparel export slump “is by far the biggest drop in all goods exported by Cambodia in monetary terms,” says Patrick Lee, legal advisor to the Phnom Penh-based labour and human rights organisation CENTRAL Cambodia (the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights). He adds it is hard to say how much of that is due to Covid and how much is due to the withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade benefit.

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