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3 Jan 2020

Reaksmey Hul, VOA

Cambodia: IMF forecasts serious economic risks if EU withdraws EBA; unions and labour rights activists urge govt. to do more to save EBA

"Unions Push Gov’t For EBA Talks As IMF Forecasts Serious Economic Risks", 1 January 2020

A week after the International Monetary Fund warned of serious downside risks to Cambodia’s economic outlook, trade unions in the country called on the government to work with the European Union to retain critical trade privileges.

The IMF forecast … showed that a complete suspension of the ‘Everything But Arms’ trade preferences would see Cambodia’s GDP growth rate drop by 3 percentage points.

It also reported that a full suspension would “lead to a permanent decline in garment sector output and employment in the long-run.” Garment and footwear exports make up a significant portion of Cambodia’s exports to the European Union. The sector also employs around 800,000 Cambodians, mostly women, and indirectly supports 3 million people.

The body also estimated Cambodia’s GDP growth rate, without factoring an EBA withdrawal, to fall to 6.8 percent in 2020, …

Ath Thorn, a member of the Cambodian Labor Confederation, said that Cambodia needed to do its best to engage in a dialogue with the European Union, to convince the trading bloc to not suspend trade preferences.

“I think that the EBA is a crucial issue, which is able to maintain macroeconomic stability, as well as decent job growth and income stability for workers,” he said. “If we lost the EBA in any way, I think it will not be good for Cambodia.”…

Khun Tharo, coordination officer at labour rights group Central, said it was incumbent on the government to engage with the EU to ensure that the EBA was not suspended. The government earlier … sent its reply to the EU’s preliminary findings…