Phnom Penh (FN), Oct. 11 – Secretary of State and spokesperson of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training Heng Sour said Thursday that Cambodia will still survive after the withdrawal of EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential system; automatically, Cambodia will lose EBA preferences in the year 2021 or 2023, for Cambodia will become middle-income country.

Heng Sour's claims was made after the EU decided to set in motion the formal procedure for the temporary withdrawal of EBA preferences for Cambodia with accusations that Cambodia violated human rights and democracy, which contrary to the basis of technical conditions and reality in Cambodia.

Heng Sour told Fresh News on Thursday that all the government institutions had a joint mechanism to handle the risks if the EU decided to withdraw EBA preferences from Cambodia ahead of the schedule. In that regards, the EU will be considered lacks of common sense and professionalisms, particularly failure to see Cambodia's leading role in the delivery and implementation of international conventions on the eight core principles of labor, the Better Factories Cambodia project (ILO-BFC) managed by the International Labour Organization, Global Deal Initiative Project of Sweden, GIZ’s project on strengthening professionalism of factory-enterprise program.

"The EU’s decision can negatively affect the role of the ILO and the many projects run by EU partners, as the EU does not take into account the results and reality of improving the working conditions, but prioritize the policy of interfering with sovereignty," said Heng Sour.

EU’s decision to set in motion the formal procedure for the temporary withdrawal of EBA preferences will consolidate Cambodia as one through the strengthening of public institutions, promoting productivity and human resources, and reducing the number of unnecessary administrative barriers that will ensure Cambodia's long-term competitiveness, he added.

The spokesman also claimed that the EU will need more than one year to complete the process of withdrawal.
Heng Sour also urged opposition politicians and journalists to be cautious in their analysis and comments on EBA, as workers will be mad and call them the “whistle-blower”.

He continued that if the oppositions are patriots and love the Cambodian people, they shall not request EU to harm Cambodian workers and their families, as EBA preferences will directly benefit them.

The Royal Government has exempted many taxes to the garment sectors, reduced electricity costs, increased the minimum wage to the workers, and provided other benefits to workers, he underlined.

The ministry of foreign affairs of Cambodia, on Wednesday, also released Communiqué in response to the EU’s announcement on the Everything But Arms (EBA).

“By implementing these withdrawal measures, the European Commission takes the risk of negating twenty years’ worth of development efforts which the Government had persevered to pull millions of women and men out of poverty and as a result such decision would nullify the enormous positive impact of the European policy from which Cambodia has benefited so far. Favoring drastic sanctions measures at the detriment of a constructive dialogue may prove to be totally counterproductive.”

“If the European institutions refuse to recognize the indisputable facts that led to the legal measures taken by the Government, which are within the prerogatives of an independent and sovereign state, then any sanction to that effect will only harden the resolve of the Cambodian Government to defend and preserve its rightful and legitimate actions.”

“The Cambodian Government is determined to build a democratic State, according to its values and its traditions, in the respect for all, but within the framework of a rule of law where nobody is beyond the law, be they political activists or members of the civil society. Cambodia counts on the support of the European States, though within the respect for its sovereignty and its dignity, to help it to realize this noble goal.”