In a statement released to The Star on Wednesday (Feb 19), GMAC said it is disappointed with the EU decision on Feb 12 to partially suspend the "Everything But Arms" (EBA) trade programme for Cambodia.
It said the country’s garment and travel goods sectors, which account for 90% of Cambodia’s exports to EU, will be hard hit by the decision.
The EBA allows EU countries to import products from Cambodia (except for arms) free of tariffs and quotas. The major beneficiaries of the program have been the country's garment and travel goods industries that account for some 75% of Cambodia's total merchandise exports.
Cambodia’s human rights record was one of the reasons given by the EC for suspending some EBA rights for Cambodia.
GMAC noted employment in the garment sectors supported by EBA trade preferences exceeds 750,000 and this has lifted millions of Cambodians out of poverty.
It said: “We urge the EC and members of the European Parliament to reconsider their decision by taking into account the values and goals that the programme was based on when it was put in place nearly 20 years ago: development assistance, poverty reduction and the dignity of employment.
“The EBA programme has been a clear success in Cambodia in meeting these objectives.
"The partial withdrawal announced on Feb 12 will affect the workers livelihoods, especially women.
“We urge the EU to act quickly to restore full EBA benefits for our sectors for the sake of sustainable development and for the hundreds of thousands of Cambodians who have risen from poverty.” - The Star/Asian News Network
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