(Phnom Penh): The EU has recently issued a statement regarding its trade preference Everything But Arms (EBA) for Cambodia. The EBA for Cambodia should be treated as mutual benefits between Cambodia as a production country and the EU as a consumer. For Cambodia, EBA serves nearly one million workers and their families. For the EU, they received quality, handmade and meticulous products with reasonable price. Both share benefits in this scheme.
Unfortunately, while the EU fact finding commission and the Cambodian goodwill delegation are working to maintain the EBA for all, the EU commission in Brussels issued a statement from which opportunists exploit and confuse public perception. The EU statement has been used to manipulate the audience by Khem Sokha’s facebook page and Radio Free Asia, which is a foreign-funded amateur media, for their political gains.
In fact, trade preference EBA is a process and cannot be just ended with a short statement. For any future decision regarding removing or continuing EBA with Cambodia will take process too because the EU is made up of three main components including member states, European Council and the European Commission. Those who initiated discussion on EBA with Cambodia are a few members of the European Parliament who have political agendas toward Cambodia.
Regarding the textile industry in Cambodia, in the last five years the ILO have acknowledged that the conditions have dramatically improved in working conditions, wage increase, worker welfare and the improved roles of the unions. Cambodian factories comply effectively with EBA requirements. With these improvements, EBA should not be used as a hostage to serve some political purposes here in Cambodia and the European Parliament.
The growth of Cambodian economy comes from diversified sectors and cooperation with good friends around the world. Cambodia is now mature and flexible and likes to create and make multiple choices with a friendly attitude toward partners and stakeholders for common interests.
The relations between Cambodia and European countries have been in good standing for over 20 years. These relations should be cherished for generations to come for the benefits of all. Trade relations are helping to promote human rights and democratization in Cambodia. It also help improving the image and roles of the EU in Asia and the world beyond.
We believe the EU will keep EBA as a bridge to continue cooperating with Cambodia on broader and more meaningful programs in many fields for human development and for a brighter future of both partners.
Volunteer, Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia