Phnom Penh (FN), Dec. 25 – In the very beginning month of 2019, Cambodian foreign affairs minister Prak Sokhonn will attend the 22nd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in January 2019 in Brussels, Belgium; he will also meet EU Trade Commissioner of the European Commission Cecilia Malmström regarding Everything But Arms (EBA) preferences, according to foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Ket Sophann on Tuesday.

Foreign affairs minister Prak Sokhonn will highlight real Cambodia’s human rights and democracy situation in the hope that the EU will continue granting EBA preferences for the kingdom.

In late October, the EU decided to set in motion the formal procedure for the temporary withdrawal of EBA preferences for Cambodia under the accusations that Cambodia is violating human rights and that her democracy is moving backward.

The Cambodian Government can only take this decision as an extreme injustice when the EU blatantly disregards the considerable progress made by the country, implementing numerous international conventions to which the grant of the EBA preferences is linked, particularly in the areas of labor and land rights,” Cambodian foreign affairs ministry reacted a few days later.

“The Government deeply regrets in this regard that serious accusations. The Government is disappointed by the lack of transparency on the part of the EU for its non-disclosure of the contents of the said report, the substance of which forms the basis of the EU’s prejudicial decision,” it added.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) stated that a temporary suspension of the EBA or any short-term unilateral sanctions may have long-term negative impacts on the lives of our workers and their families, according to the letter dated on 20 October 2018 addressed to Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

“The European Union (EU) is an important trading partner for Cambodia and especially to the apparel and footwear sector. More than 46% of our total exports of apparel and footwear is to the EU and we look forward to increase this further over the coming years,” GMAC wrote adding that, “We therefore appeal for your careful actions and thoughtful decision.”