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Cambodia's hopes high for GSP

CAMBODIA was likely to receive further trade privileges from the United States soon

after recently passed labor regulations are signed into law, Commerce Minister Cham

Prasidh said Feb 10.

"I am very hopeful," said Cham Prasidh when asked about the status of Cambodia's

application for Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade status with the United

States.

"It is my understanding [the United States] is only waiting for the King to

sign the labor law" he said.

The National Assembly passed the labor law one month ago but the legislation still

awaits the signature of King Norodom Sihanouk. Royal household officials said Feb

10 that the palace had not yet received a copy of the law.

It is the first legislation in Cambodia protecting workers' rights to strike and

bargain collectively. The measures also provide for the setting of a minimum wage,

a 48-hour working week, overtime pay, compensation for accidents and paid leave.

The United States has indicated the long-awaited law is a prerequisite to GSP, which

lowers or eliminates trade tariffs.

Cham Prasidh has said GSP would spur added investment in Cambodia, which got a boost

from the granting of US Most Favored Nation trade status last year.

The minister said that once the labor law is signed, he saw no further obstacles

blocking GSP, dismissing recent unrest in the garment sector as politically motivated.

Under the leadership of opposition figure Sam Rainsy hundreds of garment workers

have rallied in the past two months to protest working conditions in their factories

and to urge the United States to make GSP contingent on improvements in their industry.

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