PHNOM PENH, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has called on the European Union (EU) not to suspend trade preferences for Cambodia, saying that any sanctions may spell adverse impacts on the lives of workers and their families.
The call was made after EU notified Cambodia earlier this month that it had initiated the process for the temporary withdrawal of its preferential trade treatment under the Everything But Arm (EBA) scheme for Cambodia, citing concerns over human rights and labor rights.
In a letter addressed to EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom on Saturday and released to the media on Monday, GMAC Secretary General Ken Loo said some 1,000 garment and footwear factories in the kingdom directly employ about 700,000 workers with more than 85 percent being female coming from the rural provinces.
It is estimated that another 2 million out of the country's total population of 16 million economically depend on the sector, he said, adding that every month, more than 150 million U.S. dollars is paid out as salary to these workers.
"A temporary suspension of the EBA or any short-term unilateral sanctions may have long-term negative impacts on the lives of our workers and their families," Ken Loo said.
"We therefore appeal for your careful actions and thoughtful decision," he said. "GMAC stands ready to provide you with further facts as you may require during your monitoring process."
EU is an important trading partner for Cambodia, especially for the apparel and footwear sector, Ken Loo said, adding that more than 46 percent of Cambodia's total exports of apparel and footwear is to the EU.
The kingdom's export to EU was valued at about 5.77 billion U.S. dollars last year.