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Posted by: | Posted on: February 29, 2020

CNRP Statement on Hun Sen dictatorship leadership has stagnated Cambodia democracy and economy

February 27, 2020

The Cambodian People do not allow Hun Sen to destroy the Cambodian economy.

After the abolition of Cambodia democracy, Hun Sen has been in the process of destroying the economy.  The destruction of both: the political democracy and the national economy in which these two factors are original interdependent, Hun Sen has a single reason is the desire to maintain his personal lifetime power.

Two grave mistakes Hun Sen has made are political democracy and national economy. The most serious political mistake in this case is the dissolution of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in 2017 aiming to preempt the CNRP from participating in the 2018 national election. The dissolution of the CNRP is a killing of democracy because without having a strong oposition party, democracy is totally dead. Everyone knows that without CNRP as opposition party, no other party is credible. Hun Sen’s ultimate decision to dissolve CNRP has triggered the international community especially the European Union reacted swiftly as EU has essential role and obligation to safeguard democracy and human rights in Cambodia. One of the EU’s urgent reactions is to suspend the trade preference named “everything but arm” (EBA) scheme in which has resulted in grave economic slow-down in Cambodia. Another mistake of Hun Sen is to associate with China and be fully dependent on China’s supports of economy development while EU and USA have sanctioned or have prepared more severe economy and trade sanctions over current Cambodia regime.

The latest is a similar case of the Pol Pot whose leadership was wholly depending on China to contain his grip on power, under the Khmer Rouge regime, in the 1970s.

For the economy mistake, Hun Sen has undertaken it since 25 years ago. This failure is caused by Hun Sen’s ignorance and uneducated mindset which has not based on skill, experience and vision to handle the national economy development.

Hun Sen has lacked self-education and does not understand the investment of providing education to the people for nation development, Hun Sen has spoiled the Cambodia education system with disorganized human resource management and low quality standard comparing to neighboring countries. Hun Sen has relied on garment factory economy solely which requires low techinical skill and workers receive low wage as well. More than this, Hun Sen has made garment industry exported to free world countries only such as Europe and USA by relying on monopolitic raw materials imported from China. Right now, both exporting destination countries and key source of raw materials have been facing uncertainty and shortfall impacted by the suspension of EBA and COVID-19 infection. The Coronavirus infection has troubled badly on China’s industry which has curtailed supply chain to Cambodia.

With above policy failure, Cambodia’s garment industry shall face severe crisis causing unemployment and livelihood of millions of Cambodian workers and their families.

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Posted by: | Posted on: February 13, 2020

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

Original source: European Commission

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, and all travel goods and sugar. The withdrawal amounts to around one-fifth or €1 billion of Cambodia’s yearly exports to the EU. Unless the European Parliament and the Council object, this will take effect on 12 August 2020.

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.”

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. It recognises the need to continue to support Cambodia’s economic development and diversification of its exports. All emerging industries in Cambodia will continue to enjoy duty-free, quota-free access to the EU market. High value-added garments and certain types of footwear will also continue to enjoy duty-free, quota-free access to the EU market.

The Commission’s decision follows in-depth engagement with the Cambodian government and stakeholders. In particular, during the last twelve months, the Commission and the European External Action Service conducted fact-finding missions to Cambodia and held several meetings with the Cambodian authorities at both technical and political levels.

With regard to civil and political rights, there has been no significant progress since the launch of the EBA withdrawal procedure in February 2019.

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Posted by: | Posted on: December 21, 2019

Cambodia’s economy in the post-EBA era

Cambodia’s economy in the post-EBA era

Op-Ed: East Asia Forum, 16 December 2019

Author: Pheakdey Heng, Enrich Institute

It has been yet another impressive year for Cambodia’s economy. Thanks to continued strength in traditional sectors such as garments, tourism, trade and construction, Cambodia’s GDP grew 7 per cent in 2019 — the highest growth in the ASEAN region according to the IMF.

Garment workers gather at the Tonle Sap bank during a celebration for Labour Day in Phnom Penh, Cambodia 1 May 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Samrang Pring).

While this impressive growth is a reason to celebrate, the possible withdrawal of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative may affect Cambodia’s growth prospects for 2020 and beyond. Established in 2001, the EBA gives Cambodia and 48 of the world’s poorest countries access to zero tariffs on all exports except arms and ammunition to the European Union on the condition that they comply with the principles of 15 United Nations and International Labour Organization conventions on core human and labour rights.

The European Union launched an EBA withdrawal procedure on 12 February 2019 after citing ‘a deterioration of democracy and respect for human rights’ in Cambodia. After a six-month monitoring and evaluation period, the EU Commission issued a report on the situation in November and gave the government a month to respond. Depending on developments in the country, the Commission will decide by February 2020 whether or not to suspend Cambodia’s EBA privileges fully or in part. A suspension would come into effect by August 2020.

EBA termination will be a big economic loss for Cambodia, currently the second-largest beneficiary of this trade privilege. Cambodia’s exports to the European Union last year totalled around US$5.8 billion — 95 per cent of which entered the European Union duty-free.

The textile industry will be hit the hardest. The EBA has fuelled an export boom that has kept the economy growing at a steady 7 per cent a year and helped to lift millions of people out of poverty. Suspending the EBA makes exports less competitive, putting workers at risk of losing jobs and dragging down economic growth overall. Around 2 million Cambodians depend on the textile industry, including 750,000 employees.

To help cushion the negative impact of the EBA withdrawal, the government is introducing measures to facilitate trade by lowering logistical costs, cutting red tape and supporting businesses with a six-day reduction in the number of public holidays to increase productivity.

Around US$3 billion is reserved for fiscal stimulus to cope with the potential slowdown. The government also plans to increase revenue raised from taxation, customs and excise by more than 20 per cent next year. The government collected some US$4.57 billion in revenue from customs and taxation in the first nine months of 2019.

While Cambodia is almost certain to miss out on growth potential, the EBA withdrawal is also an opportunity to implement deep reform to ensure sustainable growth over the long term.

Currently Cambodia’s main exports are garments and footwear, mostly to the European Union and the United States. But this industry is labour-intensive, has low levels of technology application and low value addition. Cambodia needs to transform its industrial structure from a labour-intensive sector to a technology-driven, knowledge-based modern industry if it wants to generate lasting growth.

The strategic approach is to promote the development of the manufacturing and agro-processing industries. Investment in these sectors is more sustainable than the low-wage garment industry. It can enable Cambodian workers to acquire higher skills, paving the way for higher value products and services and better integration into regional and global production chains.

To build economic resilience, Cambodia also needs to diversify its economic partners. Trade with China, Japan and South Korea has been on the rise and there is still room to grow. Cambodia and China are now discussing a free trade agreement. If successful, it sets a good precedent for bilateral FTAs with other countries.

Economic diversification and modernisation can only be achieved with the support of hard and soft infrastructure, a constructive policy and political environment and strong human capital. Investment is needed to improve the availability, reliability and affordability of energy, to develop a multimodal transport and logistics system and to strengthen the labour market through skill development. Political stability, good governance and sound regulation are also essential to attract foreign investment and technology transfer.

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Posted by: | Posted on: November 29, 2019

Cambodia: The Interpreter, Playing the long game against Hun Sen

Op-Ed: Cambodia: Playing
the long game
against Hun Sen


European Union pressure
is working, and revoking
trade preferences might
allow Cambodians to
escape dynastic rule.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Future of Asia Conference, Tokyo, 30 May 2019 (Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Future of Asia Conference, Tokyo, 30 May 2019 (Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images) Published 26 Nov 2019 12:30  

To the casual observer, it may appear that Cambodian strongman Hun Sen is letting up, undoing some recent repression. This month, Hun Sen released Kem Sokha, the founder and co-leader of the main opposition party, after more than two years of house arrest, days later also ordering the release of more than 70 opposition activists arrested for “plotting to overthrow the government”.

These moderate relaxations are a direct response to European Union pressure, despite ruling party rhetoric suggesting the opposite. Since February 2019, the EU, citing “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights”, has been moving towards revoking Cambodia’s membership in the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme, which allows the duty-free export of certain goods – textiles, footwear, and agricultural products – to Europe. The bloc will issue its final decision in February 2020. Cambodia, if removed, will experience what one analysis described as “a decline that could send the sector into free-fall and impact on the livelihoods of millions of Cambodians.” Meanwhile, the US Senate is considering a bill that would revoke Cambodia’s membership in Washington’s own preferential trade scheme.

Elders generally credit
Hun Sen with delivering
Cambodia from the
Khmer Rouge period,
but young people do
not feel as if they owe
him anything, instead
blaming him for the
state of the economy,
along with lagging
development and corruption.

Hun Sen is a skilled maneuverer, doing just enough over the years to satisfy the West, which in turn helps prop up Cambodia’s economy, imbuing him with some much-needed legitimacy. He has a long history of making short-term concessions, only to roll them back soon after, rather than implement any real change. This is perhaps best evidenced by his cynical treatment of Sokha, who despite being “free” is still banned from politics, and set to be put on trial for treason.

Western efforts have yet to bring about the peaceful, inclusive, and democratic Cambodia promised by the 1991 Paris Peace Accords. The US and Europe have struggled to counter Hun Sen effectively, instead seeking his cooperation on issues of mutual concern, hoping to keep Cambodia at least vaguely in the Western sphere of influence. But now, with Cambodia a codified one-party state deeply in China’s pocket – and Hun Sen lashing out against the EU – the West needs a new future-focused strategy, one that holds the Cambodian government accountable for human rights violations and other breaches. As a first step, Brussels and Washington should revoke their respective preferential trade statuses for Cambodia.

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