Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Negotiations on EBA being held



Negotiations on EBA being held

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Garment workers sit at workstations at a factory in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district. Pha Lina

Negotiations on EBA being held

In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free.

The EU notified Cambodia on October 5 that the Kingdom will lose its tax-free access to the EU market unless it makes “clear and demonstrable improvements” to human rights and democracy in the Kingdom.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said on Sunday that because the trading scheme involves multiple fronts, including human rights, the Cambodian negotiating team is comprised of the ministries of foreign affairs, interior, justice and commerce.

Also included in the agenda are workers’ rights and land conflicts, among others.

“The Interior Ministry is involved in work surrounding the opposition party, the Justice Ministry is involved in the decision of the Supreme Court [in dissolving the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)]. They clarify things as part of the dialogue and cooperation partners,” he said.

Siphan said the EU had based its decision to launch the process for the EBA’s withdrawal on human rights reports that do not reflect the actual on-ground situation.

This, he said, is an attempt to exert pressure on Cambodia.

“The reports that the EU has been using are the ones from a number of international organisations and the UN special representative. They do not reflect the reality in Cambodia. So we bring each issue for discussion,” he said.

He said the government maintains its position to protect workers’ interests and Cambodia’s sovereignty as an independent country throughout the talks.

On the political front, Siphan said both parties are also discussing the issue of the former CNRP.

“We are talking. But our stance is to comply with the Cambodian constitution and follow the rule of law,” he said.

Siphan said the EU’s launch of the process withdrawing the EBA is not a sanction but merely a suspension of the preferential scheme.

Political analyst Meas Nee said the government’s willingness to turn to negotiations with the EU is a positive sign that could pave the way for a political compromise.

He said the EBA’s withdrawal will have a major impact on the Cambodian economy.

“I think by starting the dialogue, the government is placing its focus on national interests as the ones who are affected [by the EBA withdrawal] are not politicians, the Cambodian People’s Party, nor the CNRP. It’s the Cambodian people who will be affected.

“If there is a negotiation, there must be a solution. It’s just that both parties need to soften their stance to find a compromise without making each other lose face too much. I think the ongoing political crisis has been caused by nothing but a power struggle,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Foreign Affairs Ministry called the launch of the EU’s process for the EBA’s withdrawal an extreme injustice with blatant disregard for considerable progress made by the government.

The ministry said the Kingdom had made tremendous efforts in conforming to numerous international conventions linked to the EBA scheme, particularly in the areas of labour and land rights.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Hun Sen: Lakes filled in for national developments

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced continued operations to fill some lakes in Phnom Penh to create land for developments, though he is against the unrelated practice of damming rivers or blocking waterways. Speaking at the inauguration of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport

  • Koh Preus upgrades 70% complete

    Initial construction of a nearly $30 million tourism infrastructure project on Preah Sihanouk province’s Koh Preus Island is “about 70 per cent complete”, according to an official with the developer. Heng Thou, construction site manager of Angela Real Estate Co Ltd (ARE), told The Post that

  • Local media loses a giant, and The Post a great friend

    Cheang Sokha, a gifted and streetwise reporter who rose to the highest ranks of Cambodian media and was beloved for his sharp intelligence, world-class humour and endless generosity, died on Friday in his hometown of Phnom Penh. He was 42. His wife, Sok Sophorn, said he

  • Cambodia, India agree to start direct flights, tourism exchanges

    Cambodia and India have agreed to start direct flight connections and promote closer tourism exchanges and cooperation in all areas after the Covid-19 saga comes to a close. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and newly-minted Indian