Commission Delegated Regulation on the temporary withdrawal of the arrangements in respect of certain products originating in Cambodia

Author (Corporate)
Series Details C (2020) 673
Publication Date 12/02/2020
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Delegated Regulation adopted by the European Commission on 12 February 2020, which amends Annexes II and IV to Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 as regards the temporary withdrawal of the arrangement referred to in Article 1(2) of that same Regulation in respect to certain products from Cambodia.

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In terms of trade, Cambodia benefits from tariff preferences provided under the special arrangement for least-developed countries - Everything But Arms (EBA) - under Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 on the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP). Acording to Article 19(1)(a) of the GSP Regulation, preferential arrangements may be temporarily withdrawn in respect of all or certain products originitating in a beneficiary country, for serious and systematic violation of principles laid down in certain international converntions.

In February 2018, the Council of the European Union expressed concern over the deterioration of democracy, respect of human rights and the rule of law in Cambodia. In February 2019, the European Commission adopted an Implementing Decision launching the procedure for the temporary withdrawl of tariff preferences from Cambodia for serious and systematic violations of principles laid down in four human and labour rights UN and ILO conventions. Since then, the Commission carried out monitoring and evaluation of the situation in the country. At all stages of the procedure Cambodia was provided with opportunities to cooperate, provide comments and be heard. In November 2019, the Commission submitted a report on its finding and conclusions and Cambodia returned a set of observations in December.

This Delegated Regulation is based on the findings contained in the report and its underlying evidence, subsequent evaluations and assessments in light of Cambodia’s comments  and any new facts and developments that occurred after 12 December 2019. The Commission considered that, in light of the violations detected by the report, the preferential arrangement granted to Cambodia should be temporarily withdrawn until it is decided that the reasons for justifying the withdrawal no longer apply.

In assessing which products originating in Cambodia should be covered by the temporary withdrawal of preferences, the Commission takes into account  the economic development needs of Cambodia. The Commission furthermore takes into account the progress by Cambodia since the initiation of the withdrawal procedure. In light of the above, the Commission concludes that tariff preferences under the GSP Regulation should be withdrawn only for certain products.

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Commentary and Analysis
The Diplomat, 17/05/2019: Is the EU Wrong on Rights in Cambodia?
Bloomberg, 12/11/2019: The EU Is In a Bind Over Trade Versus Human Rights in Cambodia
Human Rights Watch: News, 13/02/2020: Cambodia: EU Partially Suspends Trade Preferences
The Brussels Times, 17/02/2020: EU’s ‘privileged trade scheme’ suspension with Cambodia is a blessing in disguise
The Conversation, 18/02/2020: Cambodia punished by EU over human rights violations – through limits to its trade access

Bloomberg, 11/02/2019: Cambodia Faces `Ticking' Clock on European Trade-Penalties Plan
Deutsche Welle, 11/02/19: EU to hit Cambodia with trade sanctions over rights abuses
The New York Times, 24/03/2019: Cambodia Faces Major Economic Blow as E.U. Weighs Ending Trade Deal
Al Jazeera, 15/08/2019: Cambodia-European Union trade deal is on the chopping block
Reuters, 20/09/2019: Cambodia, faced with losing European trade status, raises textile workers' wages
Reuters, 12/12/2019: Cambodia says responds to EU over human rights concern
EurActiv, 24/01/2020: Global brands urge Cambodia to reform labor amid EU sanction threat
Reuters, 11/02/2020: Cambodia PM says country 'will not bow down' a day before EU trade decision
Reuters, 12/02/2020: EU withdraws Cambodia trade benefits over human rights

European Commission: Memo, 11/02/2019: EU triggers procedure to temporarily suspend trade preferences for Cambodia
European Commission: Press Release, 12/02/2020: Trade/Human Rights: Commission decides to partially withdraw Cambodia's preferential access to the EU market

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