Cambodia’s Garment Sector Asks EU to Postpone Scheduled Trade Preference Withdrawal

AKP Phnom Penh, June 03, 2020 —

Representatives from apparel, footwear, and travel goods and European Union business communities in Cambodia have asked the EU Commission to postpone scheduled withdrawal of ‘Everything But Arms’ trade preference for 12 months.

In a letter submitted to the European Commission dated June 2, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), the Cambodia Footwear Association (CFA), and the European Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (EuroCham) said COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Cambodian apparel, footwear, and travel goods manufacturers and workers.

Some 250 factories making such items have had to totally suspend operations, with most others operating at reduced capacity, said the statement, adding that more than 130,000 workers in the sectors, most of who are women, have lost their jobs and this number is likely to rise sharply in the next weeks and months.

“The undersigned associations request the European Commission to postpone the withdrawal of EBA benefits for at least twelve months (until August 2021) to allow the sector time to recover from the devastating of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it underlined.

GMAC Chairman Mr. Van Sou Ieng said in the statement that EC’s scheduled Aug. 12 implementation of the decision to withdraw the tariff preference for 20 percent of apparel imports, 30 percent of footwear imports, and all travel goods imports from Cambodia would be a massive blow to the Kingdom.

“If the withdrawal goes forward, more orders and jobs will be lost or will never come back. The EU must not ignore the gravity of the situation and the devastating impact of removing EBA benefits in August, as the damage of an unprecedented pandemic is still being felt by our sectors,” he said.

EuroCham Chairman Mr. Arnaud Darc said that the deadly COVID-19 would seriously impact Cambodia’s trade, especially with EU.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the economy globally and the situation is no different in Cambodia where the development of the country relies heavily on its trade with Europe,” he stressed.

The EU is Cambodia’s largest trade partner and the largest buyer of Cambodian garments.

Cambodia exported garments, footwear and travel goods worth US$9.35 billion in 2019, a year-on-year increase of 11 percent, according to a report from the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft.

By Chea Vannak