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

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Baby saved as mother is lost to Covid

    Newborn baby Neth David has had a rough start in the world. His mother, Vong Daneth, was seven months pregnant when she contracted a severe case of Covid-19. When it became clear to her doctors that she would not survive, they performed a cesarean section

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • Hun Sen: Get 12-17 age group ready for Covid jabs

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has told parents of children aged 12-17 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal and Preah Sihanouk to get them ready for vaccinations soon. “There is a need to vaccinate children and youths aged 12 to 17. According to the statistics provided

  • Covid rattles Phnom Penh’s retail landscape through H1

    The Covid-19 pandemic has rocked the retail landscape in Phnom Penh, with anxiety around infection risk keeping the masses away from shopping malls and driving retail consumption down by nearly five per cent in the first half of this year, compared to July-December 2020, according to