Trade/Human Rights: Commission decides to partially withdraw Cambodia’s preferential access to the EU market

The European Commission has decided to withdraw part of the tariff preferences granted to Cambodia under the European Union’s Everything But Arms’ (EBA) trade scheme due to the serious and systematic violations of the human rights principles enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The withdrawal of tariff preferences – and their replacement with the EU’s standard tariffs (most favoured nation, MFN) – will affect selected garment and footwear products, all travel goods and sugar. The Commission’s decision addresses the human rights violations that triggered the procedure, while at the same time preserving the development objective of the EU trade scheme.The withdrawal amounts to around one-fifth or €1 billion of Cambodia’s yearly exports to the EU. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell,said: “The duration, scale and impact of Cambodia’s violations of the rights to political participation and to the freedoms of expression and association left the European Union with no other choice than to partially withdraw trade preferences. The European Union will not stand and watch as democracy is eroded, human rights curtailed, and free debate silenced. Today’s decision reflects our strong commitment to the Cambodian people, their rights, and the country’s sustainable development. For the trade preferences to be reinstated, the Cambodian authorities need to take the necessary measures.” Commissioner for Trade, Phil Hogan,said: “The European Union is committed to supporting Cambodia’s economic and social development through trade preferences. However, the respect for human rights is non-negotiable for us. We recognise the progress Cambodia has made, but serious concerns remain. Our aim is that the Cambodian authorities end human rights violations, and we will continue working with them in order to achieve that.” Unless the European Parliament and the Council object, this will take effect on 12 August 2020. A press release is available online.