EU weighs softer stance toward Cambodia over human rights

Official says ending trade preferences will impoverish already-poor workers.

A push to exclude Cambodia from a European Union preferential trade deal may be fading following a flurry of lobbying by Cambodian trade bodies and politicians, and after several Central and Eastern European member-states said they will advocate on its behalf.

An EU official with knowledge of the negotiations said there is growing uncertainty in Brussels as to whether Cambodia will be removed from the “Everything But Arms,” scheme. EBA grants some developing countries duty-free and quota-free access for almost all exports to EU markets.

Decision-makers are increasingly conscious of progress on workers rights in Cambodia, the official said, and know that ejecting it from the program could impoverish thousands of already-poor Cambodian workers if manufacturers move out of the country.

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