Cambodia’s opposition leader released ahead of EU’s Everything But Arms turmoil

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Cambodia’s powerful government released a highly rated opposition leader among the foreign cohorts on Monday this week. The release came after the EU announced it was discussing his imprisonment.

The United States had also urged the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen to drop all charges against the former CNRP leader, Kem Sokha, who was released on bail on Monday.

With pressure coming both from the EU and the US, there was little choice but to free Mr Sokha, sources told The Independent.

His release is altogether linked to the EU’s consideration of the Everything But Arms deal it has with Cambodia.

Everything But Arms was adopted by the resolution of the EU Council No. 416/2001 dated 28 February 2001 and was initiated by the EU allowing the importation of all kinds of goods from Least Developed Countries except arms into EU Countries both duty-free and quota free.

Cambodia benefits largely from this deal that has transformed its industrial landscape.

Cambodia enjoys this preferential initiative. For Cambodia, EBA provides a lot of benefits to the agriculture industry, in particular, rice and a number of other potential product said the source.

An EU portal said in the last couple of years Cambodia significantly increased rice export to EU, especially, to France and Italy.

The garments exported to EU also increased. The exportation can be carried out due to the relief from the Rule of Origin determining the local content being a minimum of 30%.

The country cannot afford to lose this deal, though it is now heavily dependent on Chinese investment to boost its FDI.

Sokha spent a year behind bars on treason charges. His bail conditions ban him from making trips abroad and from meeting with former opposition officials or individuals, especially foreigners, linked to his treason case.

He is also confined to a four-block radius surrounding his home in Tuol Kork district’s Boeng Kak II commune.