PHNOM PENH, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said on Tuesday that the country does not bow to the European Union (EU)'s pressure over the "Everything But Arms" (EBA) preferential trade status.
"I still reiterate that I do not exchange Cambodia's independence and sovereignty for any aid and preferences," he said during a groundbreaking ceremony for a road here.
"We must not bow our heads to such pressure."
His remarks came just a day before the EU is expected to make a final decision on whether to "totally or partially" suspend Cambodia's duty-free trading access to the EU market under the EBA scheme or not.
The EU started in February last year the 18-month process that could lead to the temporary suspension of the EBA scheme for Cambodia due to concerns over human rights and labor rights.
Hun Sen said the EU's decision will be made on Wednesday and the decision will take effect six months later in August.
As a Least Developed Country, Cambodia has, for decades, enjoyed exports of all products, except arms and ammunition, to the EU markets with duty-free.
The country's export to EU was valued at 5.86 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, an EU data showed, adding that garment and footwear products accounted for around three quarters of EU imports from the kingdom.
The garment and footwear industry is Cambodia's biggest export sector, employing about 750,000 people in some 1,100 factories.
If stripped, tariffs on garment, footwear, and bicycle products to the EU market will increase 12 percent, 16 percent and 10 percent, respectively, according to a World Bank report.
The government announced in March last year a number of measures, including lowering logistics and production costs, cutting red tape, and supporting businesses with a six-day reduction in the number of public holidays, to support local manufacturers and exporters in case the EU withdrew the EBA from the kingdom.
Hun Sen has said that the measures had helped reduce operating costs for producers and exporters by about 400 million U.S. dollars per year.