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Orban said political issues should not affect trade ties
PHNOM PENH--Prime Minister Hun Sen said Friday Hungary is not in favor of European Union’s move to suspend the “Everything but Arms” (EBA) trade privilege for Cambodia.
Hun Sen, who was on one official visit to Hungary on Thursday, made the comment on his Facebook page following his talks with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
“Prime Minister Orban says Hungary always stands with Cambodia and doesn’t support linking political issues to economic and trade ties. He also promised to advocate for Cambodia over the issue of EBA,” Hun Sen said.
The EBA scheme has allowed Cambodia to export products to the EU free of tariffs. But recently the EU, citing concerns over the situation of human rights and labor rights in Cambodia, has set in motion a process that could lead to scheme being suspended temporarily. It has given Cambodia 18 moths to improve the situation.
“Cambodia must show real, credible improvement on the issues of concern in order to avoid the withdrawal of EBA preferences,” the European Commission said in a statement on Tuesday.
According to the statement, Cambodia is the second largest beneficiary of EBA trade preferences, accounting for over 18% of all imports coming into the EU market under EBA preferences in 2018. EU imports exports from Cambodia to the EU totalled €5.3 billion in 2018, with over 95% taking advantage of EBA preferences. Clothing and textiles account for three quarter of EU imports from Cambodia (€4 billion).
Hun Sen said that, during his talks with Mr. Orban, he also requested his Hungary for support in restoring Koh Ker temple, a 10th-century monument built during the ancient Khmer empire.
Two bilateral agreements were also signed during his visit – one aimed at promoting economic ties and educational exchange programs, and another for cooperation on human resource development and tourism between the two countries.
Hun Sen said he and Mr. Orban have agreed to open an embassy in each country in 2021 to commemorate the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations.