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The ETUC & ITUC WelcomeLiftingOf EUTrade Benefits To Cambodia

The European Commission announced today a partial withdrawal of trade concessions to Cambodia under its preferential trade arrangement, EverythingButArms(EBA). The decision came after a long period of “enhanced dialogue” initiated by the EU in order to pressure the Cambodiangovernmentto stop persecuting opposition leaders andtoroll back other authoritarian measures.

Cambodiaranks in thelowest category of the ITUC Global Rights Index – category 5 – and thuscontributessignificantlytothe global race to the bottom on labour protections.Followingyears of trade union campaigning, and the imminent threat of EBAwithdrawal, arecent reform of the country’s Law on Trade Unionsstillfailed toaddress key demands to bring the law intoconformity with ILO standardsandto protect freedom of association and the right to organise. The government hascontinued tofile charges against trade union leaders,and organising or joining a union in garment factories and other sectors is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous. Anti-union discrimination is rampant.

With Cambodia being a major beneficiary under the EBA, the partial withdrawal is a test for Europe’s trade policy and its impact on human rights.

TheETUC andITUC welcome the EUdecision to withdraw Cambodia’s trade preferences.

Sharan Burrow,ITUC General Secretary,said:“The Cambodian government is fully responsible for the withdrawal of benefits, and we regretitslack of commitmentto Cambodia’s working people.The governmentand companies doing business in the countrymustfinally listen to the concerns of workers and act to ensure that freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are fully respected.The trade benefits shouldonlybe restored once thegovernmentchangesitscourse on democracy and labour rights. The EUshould increasepressure on Hun Sen’s government in order to promotesound labour protection and stop prosecutions of trade unionists.”

Luca Visentini, ETUC General Secretary, said: “Wesupport the decision of the European Commission to lift trade preferencesforCambodia. We have always advocated a strong EU stance on the international stage to respect labour rights. EU trade preferences should only be given to third countrieswith strict conditionsonthe respectforlabour rights. This is the basisfor fairglobalisation.”

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