“As Cambodia`s dictatorial leader, Hun Sen is responsible for the recklessness of action against dissidents and human rights throughout the country, which has forced the EU to respect its own rules and suspend some eu trade benefits,” Adams said. “Hun Sen can restore these preferences and show that he cares for Cambodian workers by ending his attack on workers` rights, political opposition and fundamental freedoms. International companies sourcing from Cambodia should increase pressure on the government to meet its international human rights obligations. The EU works closely with ASEAN as a whole. Cooperation will be maintained through the EU-ASEAN dialogue, which includes discussions on trade and investment issues between ministers and senior economic officials. Cambodia is currently in talks on a free trade agreement with South Korea, whose third round of negotiations has just been concluded. Through free trade agreements, Cambodia expects to strengthen bilateral trade between partner countries rather than trade exemptions that could be lifted in the short term. Prime Minister Hun Sen said the EBA agreement would be lost overall one day, but that free trade agreements will be maintained forever. “The deterioration of Cambodia`s trade relations with the EU is in tangential with the deterioration of its human rights record,” Walters said. “But it is a shame that these kinds of global sanctions will end up doing more harm to Cambodians than to those in power.” The Minister said the agreement would lead to a stronger economic partnership through a high degree of liberalization of market access for goods, services and investment. Previous remarks by Cambodian government officials stressed that the agreement focused on improving agricultural exports to China. The EU decision followed a year-long formal review of Cambodia`s “Everything but Arms” (EBA) trade preferences.
The EU`s preliminary conclusion, sent to the Cambodian government on 12 November 2019, indicates that Cambodia has seriously and systematically violated freedom of expression, restricted other civil and political rights and failed to guarantee workers` rights. Josep Borrell, the EU`s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said in a statement that the EU “would not look at eroded democracy, reduce human rights and silence free debate. Today`s decision reflects our strong commitment to the Cambodian people, their rights and the country`s sustainable development. Cambodia`s textile sector employs 700,000 people. Total trade between the two partners amounted last year to 5.6 billion euros. The EU, which is the Kingdom`s main trading partner, has signed a free trade agreement with Vietnam (free trade agreement BETWEEN the EU and the United Nations). The pact would lead Cambodia`s exports to reduce their competitiveness with the trade bloc. (Bangkok) – The European Commission announced on 12 February 2020 that Cambodia would partially suspend preferential trade preferences with the European Union, after the government ignored serious human rights concerns, human rights watch said today. Prime Minister Hun Sen should take urgent steps to improve the sluggish human rights and labour situation in Cambodia that led to the Commission`s decision, including ending the ban on the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) and halting prosecutions against the CNRP leader.