EU Launches Procedure For Suspending Cambodia's Trade Preferences With Bloc - Statement

EU Launches Procedure for Suspending Cambodia's Trade Preferences With Bloc - Statement

The European Union started on Monday a process that may result in the suspension of Cambodia's preferential access to the bloc's market over concerns of human rights violations in the Asian country, the European Commission said in a statement

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 11th February, 2019) The European Union started on Monday a process that may result in the suspension of Cambodia's preferential access to the bloc's market over concerns of human rights violations in the Asian country, the European Commission said in a statement.

Under the Everything but Arms (EBA) trade scheme, the European Union grants duty and quota free access to the bloc's market for all products produced in the least developed countries besides arms. The list of such countries includes mostly central African states as well as a number of Asian nations, including Cambodia.

"The EU has today started the process that could lead to the temporary suspension of Cambodia's preferential access to the EU market under the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme. EBA preferences can be removed if beneficiary countries fail to respect core human rights and labour rights," the commission said in a statement.

The temporary procedure does not imply an immediate removal of tariff preferences, Brussels noted.

"Instead, it kicks off a period of intensive monitoring and engagement. The aim of the Commission's action remains to improve the situation for the people on the ground," the statement read.

The process includes a six-month period of "intensive monitoring and engagement with the Cambodian authorities," which will be followed by a three-month period for the bloc to produce a report on the findings.

"After a total of twelve months, the Commission will conclude the procedure with a final decision on whether or not to withdraw tariff preferences; it is also at this stage that the Commission will decide the scope and duration of the withdrawal. Any withdrawal would come into effect after a further six-month period," the European Commission added.

Cambodia's total exports to the European Union amount to almost 5 billion Euros ($5.6 billion), 99 percent of which falls under the trade preferences, according to EU figures.

The European Union has repeatedly voiced concerns over what Brussels views as the collapse of democracy in Cambodia. Last year, the Cambodian government detained numerous political prisoners, including supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), human rights advocates, activists and journalists, for criticizing the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) or Prime Minister Hun Sen, according to Human Rights Watch.

In addition, UN human rights experts have called on the Cambodian government to ensure an "open political debate" in the country, as they were concerned over the human rights violations following the July 2018 election.

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