Rejecting accusations of a worsening human rights and democracy situation in Cambodia, the country’s ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation has criticised the recent announcement by the European Union (EU) about officially starting the withdrawal procedure of the Everything But Arms (EBA) benefits for Cambodia and termed it ‘regressive’.
The EU measures will only harm ordinary Cambodians, a statement issued by the ministry said.
“Cambodia is mindful that this decision is made by two commissioners, without taking into account neither the fate of nearly one million Cambodian female workers, nor the interest of the European business in Cambodia, nor the decades-long good bilateral relation Cambodia has with key EU member states,” the statement read.
Cambodia is committed to enhancing the democratic space and human and labour rights, it said.
The commerce ministry, in a separate press release, said a mitigation plan for the possible adverse impacts has already started. The relevant ministries and institutions had made reforms to help cut the cost of production and transportation and enhance socio-economic conditions for workers and farmers, it said.
According to the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), as the EU accounts for 46 per cent of the country’s total garment exports, the EU measures would mean a further 20 per cent of garment exports would shift to non-EU markets.