GMAC seeks to retain Kingdom’s EBA status

The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) is using the strategy of lobbying the European Parliament’s Committee of International Trade (Inta) members to increase Cambodia’s chances of retaining its “Everything But Arms” (EBA) agreement.

GMAC president Van Sou Ieng and secretary-general Ken Loo met with Inta members in Brussels on Friday to discuss the Kingdom’s EBA status.

Sou Ieng told the Post on Sunday that he had met and lobbied about 27 Inta members including its chairman.

“We lobbied the EU to retain the EBA status of Cambodia based on our high compliance on labour and International Labour Organisation [ILO] foundational convention,” he said.

On Saturday, GMAC wrote on its Facebook account saying that it was looking forward to a fair and positive result for the Cambodian garment sector.

GMAC deputy secretary-general Kaing Monika said that Sou Ieng and Loo’s trip to Brussels was a mission to meet relevant EU lawmakers to provide all the facts about the country’s garment and footwear sector. “We can do so as we have registered as an interested party,” he said.

Inta press officer Eszter Balazs did not respond to queries from The Post on Sunday.

The EU had launched the EBA withdrawal procedure in February 12, citing “serious human rights violations”, and “democracy set back” in Cambodia.

The bloc had ended their investigation on the matter on August 12 and would send their report to Cambodia within three months.

A source with knowledge of the issue but who asked to remain anonymous said on Sunday that the mandate of the current EU Commission would end on October 31.

Consequently, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom is believed to be finalising her report by mid-October, fearing the new commissioner could have another evaluation of the global situation in Cambodia.

He said Malmstrom was leaning to International Liberal, a political group he believed to be affiliated with the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) movement, and which is “extremely hostile to the Cambodian Government”.

“That was why GMAC representatives think it is useful to have meetings with members of the EU Parliament from different political groups,” said the source.

The source expressed the belief that the EU Council of Ministers is not aware of Malmstrom’s intention to send her report before the end of her mandate and before the normal deadline.