EU suspends Cambodia’s trade advantages

About 20 per cent of Cambodian exports to the EU are affected. The latter is imposing sanctions on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government for its repeated human rights violations. This is a severe blow to the local garment industry, already badly affected by the pandemic. A free-trade agreement with China will not make up for the losses.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The European Union has suspended some of Cambodia’s trade advantages, starting today.

EU duties will now be levied on about 20 per cent of Cambodia's exports to the EU, estimated to be worth around US$ 1.1 billion, because of repeated human rights violations by the government of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In particular, the EU is sanctioning Phnom Penh for banning the main opposition party and for indicting its leader Kem Sokha.

For Cambodia’s flourishing garment industry, the loss of preferential treatment will be a second major blow after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bangladesh, which also enjoys preferential access to EU markets, could take over Cambodia’s market share.

After the EU’s move in February, the Cambodian government began negotiating a free trade deal with China.

Analysts, however, say that such an agreement would be largely symbolic, centred on agricultural exports, and will do little to help Cambodia's 900,000 garment workers.