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Europe expected to consider EBA efforts, impact

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EU Ambassador to Cambodia Carmen Moreno and Ministry of Foreign Affairs secretary of state Luy David. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Europe expected to consider EBA efforts, impact

The government said it expects the European Commission to consider its efforts to comply with the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) regulations and the impact on one million workers should access to the agreement be suspended in February.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Thursday issued a statement to inform the public that Cambodia had submitted its response to the European Commission with regards the EBA withdrawal procedure.

The final response is a comprehensive report on the measures taken by the government to respond to all the areas of concern for the European Commission, particularly respect for the right to political participation, land rights, freedom of expression and freedom of association, the ministry said.

“The government expects that the European Commission will take into consideration the government’s good-faith efforts to implement all the relevant international conventions under the EBA regulations, the potential social impact of nearly one million female workers and the indirect effects on the families and relatives supported by these workers’ wages, as well as respecting the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in Cambodia’s internal affairs,” it said.

The response was handed over to Carmen Moreno, the EU Ambassador to Cambodia, by Luy David, the ministry’s secretary of state.

The European Commission will make its final decision in February on whether to fully or partly withdraw or suspend Cambodia’s access to EBA.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday reiterated the Kingdom’s stance that it would not exchange its sovereignty for any aid or trade preference.

Sok Touch, the president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said on Thursday that he expected the European Commission not to suspend access to the EBA.

“Firstly, [if it does], it would affect workers. Secondly, it would push Cambodia away from the EU and closer to China. Thirdly, it would affect political development in Cambodia.

“We see that [former Cambodia National Rescue Party president] Kem Sokha also comes under this scope.

“Fourthly, Cambodia will make efforts to solve its internal problems as well as the human rights matters that concerned the EU. With these four points, I believe that the EU will not withdraw the EBA. This is what I believe,” Touch said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said Cambodia was looking at the UK leaving the EU as it imported more of the Kingdom’s products than any other European country.

He said the UK had promised to continue supporting Cambodian exports to Britain after the nation left the EU.

However, Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party said the British people were on Thursday again voting to decide on Brexit. He said Cambodians also wanted to have genuine elections as in the UK.

“Cambodians want to be able to vote and determine their future in the same way that British people can. Therefore I call on Britain to refrain from allowing Cambodia free-trade access after Brexit,” Rainsy wrote on Facebook.

Government spokesperson Phay Siphan said he could not elaborate on the response sent to the European Commission. But with regard to Rainsy’s appeal to the UK, he said it reflected Rainsy’s real intentions.

“What [Rainsy] said shows that his goal is to destroy workers’ [livelihoods]. He makes workers his political hostages. The Cambodian government never holds workers hostage,” Siphan stressed.

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