The partial suspension of EBA trade preferences in Cambodia will cover certain clothing and footwear products, as well as all travel products and sugar. After a transitional period of six months, the sectors affected by the suspension are subject to import duties upon entry into the EU market. If the Cambodian government meets the EBA`s human rights and labour law requirements, the Commission could restore preferences. The Commission could have requested a total suspension and increased the scope of the suspension if the situation deteriorated. The Cambodian government must ensure that its free trade agreement with China is centered on the interests of the people, writes Heimkhemra Suy. The European Commission announced on 12th February that Cambodia was no longer qualified for preferential trade status under the special “Everything but Arms” regime.  The regime reduces tariffs and tariffs to zero for all products imported into the EU that are not weapons. The agreement provides for countries to meet a list of standards and requirements set out in several UN and International Labour Organization conventions. These conventions are: for the Cambodian Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China to be a success, it must both improve the country`s economic competitiveness and gain the kind of Chinese investment that will create local jobs. Trade relations between the two sides were under the “Everything but Arms” (EBA) agreement, a 2001 initiative whererly all imports (excluding armaments) from the least developed countries of the United Nations to the European Union were automatically considered to be duty-free and contingent-free.
Much of the argument in favour of free trade agreements is based on improving economic efficiency that allows each signatory state to engage in the economic activity in which they specialize, participate in international trade and do better than they would be by exploiting a more independent economy. Details of the Cambodia-China free trade agreement have not yet been finalized, but Cambodia`s export statistics indicate that the agreement would produce only part of the damage to preferential trade status with the European Union, which was Cambodia`s second-largest trading partner in 2019. “We have opened up business opportunities in Cambodia that allow it to develop an export-oriented industry and provide jobs for thousands of Cambodians. We still support them today in the difficult circumstances caused by the pandemic. Nevertheless, our continued support does not diminish the urgent need for Cambodia to respect human and workers` rights,” he said. Although China was Cambodia`s largest trading partner last year, about 95% of Cambodia`s exports to the European Union were textiles, footwear, bicycles and food products, including rice, while Cambodia exports mainly food and raw materials to China. “The preferential treatment granted to Cambodia,” the statement continued, “is now temporarily suspended due to serious and systematic concerns about human rights problems at home. The EU implements this measure and remains open to cooperation with Cambodia on the necessary reforms. (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. “As a dictatorial leader of Cambodia, Hun Sen is responsible for the recklessness of action against dissidents and human rights in all