EU to Cambodia: Fix human rights or face economic hardship

Both Cambodia and Myanmar heavily depend on the European Union's duty and quota free trade agreement. But the European bloc believes it is time that these countries address human rights abuses. Ate Hoekstra reports.

Already saddled with debt, Cambodian textile worker Chul Sreymom fears she will lose her job if the EU drops Cambodia’s preferential trade status. “If I lose my job, I would be forced to sell my cows and my land. In that scenario, I will be left with only one option: go abroad to find work,” she told DW.

In October, Cecilia Malmström, the EU commissioner for International Trade and Trade Agreements, announced that Cambodia would cease to be a part of the European bloc’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme because of the Southeast Asian country’s disregard for human and labour rights.

The EU’s EBA program is important for Cambodia and other developing countries, as they can export their products to Europe free of duty and quota. The removal from the EBA would mean that thousands of Cambodians could lose their jobs.

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