12 Feb 2019
The European Union yesterday started the process of intense monitoring and engagement for six months that could lead to the temporary suspension of Cambodia’s preferential access to the market under the Everything-but-arms (EBA) trade scheme, it said in a statement.
The launching of the temporary withdrawal procedure does not entail an immediate removal of tariff preferences, which, according to the statement, is the option of last resort.
“Instead, it kicks off a period of intensive monitoring and engagement. The aim of the European Commission remains to improve the situation for the people on the ground,” read the statement that was published on the EU website.
The move is in line with the EBA withdrawal process that was put into motion on Oct 4 last year following a fact-finding mission to Cambodia in July that allegedly found evidence of serious and systematic violations of core human and labour rights, in particular the rights to political participation and the freedoms of assembly, expression and association.
The findings added to the longstanding EU concerns regarding the lack of workers’ rights and disputes linked to economic land concessions in the country.
EU member states gave their approval to the EC proposal to launch the withdrawal procedure at the end of last month.
The temporary withdrawal process aims to force Cambodia to adhere to its obligations under core United Nations and International Labour Organisation conventions.
The process involves a six-month period of intensive monitoring and engagement with the Cambodian authorities, followed by another three-month period for the EU to produce a report based on the findings.