Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen is wrong to assume the EU will stop at partial trade sanctions if he does not end a crackdown on voices critical of his government, observers said Wednesday, a week ahead of a planned return of tariffs to around one-fifth of Cambodian exports to the bloc.
The EU in mid-February announced plans to suspend tariff-free access to its market under the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) scheme for some 20 percent of Cambodia’s exports, citing rollbacks on democracy and human rights. The move would reinstate tariffs on goods from the country’s key garment industry beginning Aug. 12, unless it is overturned by the bloc’s governments or its parliament.
Hun Sen has said that EU demands to maintain the EBA are unreasonable and an encroachment on Cambodia’s internal affairs, and has continued to target members of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which was banned in November 2017 for its role in an alleged plot to topple the government, and other activists who have spoken out against him.
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