Cambodia PM: The country is not dead if no EBA of EU

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The Cambodia Prime Minister has strongly affirmed that his nation would still survive although the European Union suspends their Every But Not Arms (EBA), the tax-free access trade agreement, to the EU markets from his nation. The tax and duty free exports from Cambodia to the EU market is worth some US$676 million annually and last October 5 the EU notified Cambodia that the Kingdom would lose its tax-free access to the EU market unless it makes clear and demonstrable improvements to human rights and democracy. Speaking in the annual gathering with more than 5,000 journalists, media professionals and academics, journalism students, government officials and spokespersons on Friday 11 Jan 2019, Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, confidentially expressed that his government would strengthen its tax system to gain more national incomes so it could survive when the withdrawal occurs.

 

Cambodia guarantees that it still survives despite suspension of the tax fee agreement from the EU while it is strengthening the country’s [financial] independence, Hun Sen said by adding that “If no EBA, Cambodia still alive.” In 2014, Cambodia also lost tax preferences for exports to the United States while the EU is still its main export destination as part of its 40 percent of all exports. Some non-governmental organisations and the government opponents expressed their concern over the EBA withdrawal saying that when tax paying is taken action it will affect small companies and they can stop operating which can be affecting the workers’ employment.

 
The textile sector — with employment of about 700,000 workers – exported 46 percent of the products to Europe market followed by the United States (24 percent), Japan (16 percent) and Canada (9 percent).
Some countries in the region like Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand do not receive EBA access because they have economic growth, Hun Sen said last October, adding that “So, Cambodia will sooner or later lose it as well. ..It will be gone because our economy is growing. For loans, they will not lend us with low interest rates any more. It will be loans with commercial interest rates.” Hun Sen said he also had talked with Japan, South Korea, China and the Asian Development Bank as his national “economy is growing, asking please let me take loans with concessional interest rates.” While appealing the nation and people to keep peace, stability, and moving forward, Hun Sen also announced that he would keep his country stronger while celebrating his 34-year premiership on January 14, 2019 and would stay at least the next 9 years.

 

By Chhay Sophal

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