EU trade perks in the balance

On February 12, the European Union Commission pulled the plug on Cambodia’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), citing “serious and systematic violations of human-rights principles,” partially withdrawing the country’s preferential access to the EU.

The decision resulted in uncertainty for Myanmar’s industries, especially the garment and shoemaking sectors, as the EU imports more than 45 percent of garments made in Myanmar. If similar measures were applied to Myanmar, it could affect industries that employ over half a million workers.

However, with Myanmar’s continued access to Europe – the world’s largest single market – the country stands to benefit from the relocation of manufacturers from Cambodia, an industry source said.   

The EU commission announced in October 2018 that it was considering revoking trade privileges for Myanmar due to human-rights violations in northern Rakhine State, but the case has not been decided, and the commission does not have a timeline for a final decision.

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