Since 2001 Cambodia has benefited from an exceptional trading advantage, granted by the European Union thanks to an initiative known as “Everything But Arms” (EBA). This provides the possibility of exporting to Europe without quotas or customs duties. The advantage was given to a group of countries in the process of development and transition toward democracy. The intention of the European Commission was to help “least developed countries” to escape from poverty but also — a parallel, mandatory, criteria — to progress on the path to democracy and respect for human rights.
Since its creation, the EBA program has proved vital for Cambodia, whose economy is based on the export-oriented clothing industry (40 percent of GDP and 60 percent of exports). The European Union buys 40 percent of the clothes produced in Cambodia, through leading international brands.