While amfori sees that Cambodia’s partial loss of the ‘Everything but Arms’ (EBA) preferences could have a negative effect on the country’s manufacturing sector and its workers, it supports the European Commission’s decision as a means to encourage the Cambodian government to improve the human rights situation in the country. amfori president, Christian Ewert, asserted that “the loss of preferential duty levels will impact our members that source from Cambodia. However, Cambodia’s violations go against our commitment to Trade with Purpose: that trade should have social, as well as economic benefits. Therefore, although I regret the preference removal, I regret the fact that Cambodia’s government did little to prevent it even more so.”
In this statement, Mr Ewert refers to the fact that the European Commission, in cooperation with the European External Action Service and with close attention to reports by the ILO, had determined Cambodia violated its commitments to:
- The ILO Convention on Freedom of Association and Right to Organise
- The ILO Convention on Collective Bargaining
- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Since Cambodia did not resolve these failings during investigation, the European Commission has concluded that the “Everything But Arms” preferences afforded to Cambodian imports (for clothing, the main export, import duties of 0% instead of 12%) should be removed. This was done on a partial basis to have minimum impact on sectors that involved high numbers of local workers.
Mr Ewert concluded by saying “I hope that the Cambodian authorities recognise that the Commission’s decision shows that the EBA preferences granted by the EU are conditional. That is, that the country complies with basic human and workers’ rights. And I hope that Cambodia reacts by implementing the significant improvements that its people deserve.”