When the European Union announced it would slice $1 billion worth of annual trade perks off Cambodian exports Prime Minister Hun Sen, the decision was far from unexpected. Indeed, the government had already been previewing statements of outrage and caution about the potential implications of the EU’s decision.
Reality is a little different. Amounting to one-fifth of total EU exports, the partial withdrawal of trade preferences under the Everything But Arms (EBA) policy was at most a slap on the wrists for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
While its impact is not insignificant, it pales relative to the embarrassment of being slapped down in the international diplomatic arena for its behavior in the lead up to the 2018 election which the opposition National Cambodian Rescue Party (CNRP) was barred from contesting.