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Cambodia | Brussels, 11 June 2019

EU sends monitoring mission to Cambodia to assess the human rights and labour rights situation

Officials from the European Commission and the European External Action Service undertook a mission to Cambodia from 3 to 10 June 2019. The mission was part of the monitoring and evaluation under the procedure that could lead to the temporary withdrawal of Cambodia’s trade preferences under the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme, following concerns over Cambodia’s record against core human rights and labour rights conventions.

The mission looked at some of the major issues of concern in Cambodia, including the potential violation of

  • Political rights
  • Freedom of expression and freedom of association
  • The right to organise and collective bargaining
  • Dispossession of families caused by economic land concessions (ELCs), particularly in the sugar sector.

The monitoring mission met government authorities, international organisations, trade unions, business organisations, civil society, and the Embassies of EU member states and third countries.

The mission noted steps reported by Cambodia towards improving compliance with international standards on freedom of association and collective bargaining, as well as in addressing a number of land disputes in relation to economic land concessions.

The monitoring and evaluation period will end in mid-August. Following that date, the EU will produce a report of its findings and conclusions. Cambodia will have one month to reply to this report.

The EU’s aim is to address the human rights and labour rights concerns. The EU is committed to work with the Cambodian authorities to achieve this. Cambodia must show real, credible improvement on the issues of concern in order to avoid the withdrawal of EBA preferences.

Cambodia is the second largest beneficiary of EBA trade preferences, accounting for over 18% of all imports coming into the EU market under EBA preferences in 2018. EU imports exports from Cambodia to the EU totalled €5.3 billion in 2018, with over 95% taking advantage of EBA preferences. Clothing and textiles account for three quarter of EU imports from Cambodia (€4 billion).

More on trade with Cambodia
More on the Everything but arms trade preferences