The European Union reimposed customs duties on many of Cambodia’s exports on Wednesday, suspending its trade arrangement over concerns about human rights.

Trade commissioner Phil Hogan stressed that while Brussels stands by Cambodia in battling the coronavirus, “Our continued support does not diminish the urgent need for Cambodia to respect human rights and labour rights.”

“We have provided Cambodia with trade opportunities that let the country develop an export-oriented industry and gave jobs to thousands of Cambodians,” he said.

Now, Cambodia has lost its access to the EU’s “Everything But Arms” trade arrangement for least developed countries, which will hit typical exports such as garments, footwear and travel goods.

These products represent around 20 percent of Cambodia’s exports to the EU and will now be subject to the general tariffs applied under World Trade Organisation rules.

Hogan said he would restore tariff-free access if the EU sees “substantial improvement” in Cambodia’s human rights record.

Cambodia’s textile sector employs 700,000 people. Total trade between the two partners was 5.6 billion euros last year.

AFP

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