EBA benefit withdrawal to hurt 4 mn Cambodians: GMAC

August 17, 2019 - Cambodia

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) recently said the European Union’s (EU) possible withdrawal of Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) access would harm 750,000 workers and three million families. The statement came as the EU is set to present its conclusions to Cambodia after a further three-month period, after which a final decision would be taken.

Outgoing EU ambassador to Cambodia George Edgar said earlier this month that the European Commission would share its conclusions with Cambodia within three months, and then the country will have a month to respond before a decision is made.

GMAC appealed to the EU legislators and officials and all interested EU stakeholders that a suspension of EBA benefits for the sector will result in large job losses across the garment, footwear and travel goods labour force and would not serve the EBA programme objective of poverty eradication and sustainable development, GMAC’ said in a statement.

GMAC represents 580 garment, footwear and travel goods production facilities in the country.

It said that concessions offered through EBA had lifted millions of Cambodians out of poverty and significantly contributed to the Kingdom’s economic and social development, according to Cambodian media reports.

Exports from Cambodia to the EU totalled €5.3 billion ($5.8 billion) last year, with more than 95 per cent included under the EBA. Of this, €4 billion was in clothing and textiles – two industries which are set to be the hardest hit if the EBA is withdrawn.

GMAC also highlighted that it was the first association to welcome the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to inspect its factories for compliance with national and international labour requirements.

“GMAC has submitted supportive evidence to respond positively to the EU’s concerns and to demonstrate the progress and compliance record of our sector with laws and ILO standards, and to determine that EBA benefits should continue to be granted to our exports,” the statement said. (DS)