Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - EU should reconsider effects of its sanctions



EU should reconsider effects of its sanctions

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A Cambodian garment worker sews clothing at a factory in 2009. Post staff

EU should reconsider effects of its sanctions

Dear Editor,

The national election is now over, and it is decision time for the European Union (EU), which is considering sanctions against Cambodia.

Most prominently under consideration is the removal of trade benefits that are available under the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative. But the EU should carefully consider the consequences of this punitive measure before making any decision.

Several weeks ago, I met with an EU delegation to discuss the situation in Cambodia. I was one of many stakeholders from the private sector with whom they met, and my message was a simple one – whatever political differences you have with the Royal Government of Cambodia, do not take actions that will primarily hurt the people of Cambodia.

Whether you agree or disagree with actions taken by the government, taking away EBA will hurt the economy and, ultimately, the people of the country. So it would be an ill-advised move.

According to press reports, this advice was uniformly given to the EU delegation by stakeholders from both the business community and labour unions. Ironically, this proposed action comes at a time when the business community has voted for Cambodia, as evidenced by a variety of economic indices including foreign direct investment (FDI) and an improved GDP.

Concerning Foreign Direct Investments, for example, a report by the National Bank of Cambodia indicates that there was an investment of $1.32 billion in the first half of this year – a 14 per cent increase over the same period last year.

This is remarkable as there usually is an economic slowdown in years in which there is a national election. Exports grew by 9.3 per cent in the same period of time. The GDP is likely to achieve its usual 7 per cent figure this year as well. So it strikes one as strange that the EU would be considering such an action like eliminating EBA.

There have been critics of virtually every national election. Ironically, the one election not criticised by the opposition and international critics was the 1993 UNTAC election. That lack of criticism likely occurred because it was an election where the United Nations deemed that the royalist party came in first place with the ruling party number two.

This judgment was made without notice taken of the irregularities in that election. So the fact is that criticisms were apparently muted because the international critics were happy with the result.

If international critics take issue with the government’s policies, the answer is to have more engagement with Cambodia, not less. This is a compelling reason for the EU to keep the EBA in place.

Sanctions like this would hurt the economy, and the negative trickle-down effect for the average Cambodian would be immediate and devastating.

Ironically, during its visit to Phnom Penh, the EU delegation commented that the elimination of EBA for Cambodia was the last resort.

In a statement issued by the mission at the end of its fact-finding mission, it said: “Removing Cambodia from the trading scheme is a measure of last resort …”

Last resort? Removal of EBA is no resort! It would only hurt the economy and people of Cambodia. This threat should be taken off the table.

Bretton G Sciaroni is a lawyer in Phnom Penh and active in a number of business associations.

The views expressed in this article are his alone and do not represent the views of any organisation

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length.
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

MOST VIEWED

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Cambodia eyes key role in electronics, auto hubs in SEA

    Two roadmaps, part of the LDC’s economic diversification plan, were designed to see it through its migration process, but experts say the journey might be arduous, particularly in the presence of two established hubs in the region By 2028, Cambodia hopes to have exited the

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • PM meets with US business giants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has met with a number of major US companies who have expressed interest in investing in Cambodia, in a meeting convened by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). A delegation of companies – including Amazon, Meta, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Ford, Visa and Pernod

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with