Withdrawing Free Trade Against UN Principles, Hun Sen Says

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Mr. HUN SEN attends Cultural and Social events at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Geneva, Switzerland on July 03, 2019. Image: Facebook of Hun Sen

Prime Minister Hun Sen told a World Trade Organization meeting on Wednesday that removing preferential trade agreements from less developed countries would violate the U.N.’s mission to help the poor.

Both the E.U. and U.S. are considering suspending Cambodia’s duty-free access to their markets due to a political crackdown on the opposition party, civil society and independent media in Cambodia over the past two years.

“Please consider things carefully before imposing suspensions or removing preferences from less developed countries,” Hun Sen told the WTO’s “Global Review of Aid for Trade” in Geneva. “A suspension or withdrawal would not allow them to help the world achieve sustainable development goals and would not help them to leave the status of a less developed country.”

Removing trade preferences would amount to “a move that is completely contrary to the principles of the United Nations and World Trade Organization,” he said.

The E.U. in February embarked on a process to review Cambodia’s duty-free access to its markets after seeing a decline in democracy, human rights and rule of law in the last 18 months.

A six-month monitoring and evaluation period in the review will end in mid-August.

Meanwhile, several bills proposing sanctions on Cambodia, including removing Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade deals, have been put forward in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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