Cambodia PM: Maintaining sovereignty more important

 It is more important for Cambodia to maintain its independence and sovereignty than to retain special trading privileges that the European Union (EU) has threatened to withdraw, Prime Minister Hun Sen said last week. Even with the loss of the trade privileges, his country can export its products to the EU as before, he told government officials.

Cambodia would earn lower profits, but the EU would no longer be able to threaten or put any conditions on the country, global newswires quoted the prime minister as saying.

The EU announced earlier this year that it would begin a monitoring process to decide whether to end duty-free and quota-free imports from Cambodia because of concerns about its poor record in human and labour rights.

Cambodia is one of several developing nations with which the EU has an ‘Everything But Arms’ (EBA) scheme granting preferential access to the European market for goods other than weapons.

The EU on November 12 handed over its preliminary evaluation report to Cambodia, allowing a month for a response. The report is confidential, but it is believed to be critical of Cambodia for failing to improve its rights record.

A decision on whether to withdraw the privileges is supposed to be made by February next year.

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