Congressmen Lowenthal and Chabot Introduce Bill To Suspend Cambodia's Preferential Trade Status

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Washington, D.C., February 26, 2019 | comments
Congressmen Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Steve Chabot (OH-01) today introduced bipartisan legislation requiring the Trump Administration to review the preferential trade treatment that Cambodia receives from the United States.

The Cambodia Trade Act (CTA) would require the Administration to review Cambodia’s preferential trade status under which it is allowed exemptions or reductions to tariffs on goods it exports to the United States. However, the thirty-four-year regime of Prime Minister Hun Sen has been accused of serious labor and human rights violations, as well as actions to undermine the nation’s path toward democracy by attempts to abolish any political opposition or dissent.

“The regime of Hun Sen has steadily dismantled what was the burgeoning democracy of Southeast Asia,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “He has undermined the will of the people, subverted the promise of free and fair elections, and wielded power with the iron glove of a dictator. Intimidation, threats, violence, and even murder, are the tools of his regime. He and his regime must pay a price for their role in destroying the rule of law and violating the basic freedoms of the Cambodian people.”

The CTA would also require the Trump Administration to use the findings of the review to reach a decision on whether Cambodia’s preferential trade privileges should be withdrawn, suspended, or limited.

“As I have said repeatedly in the past, Prime Minister Hun Sen must be held accountable for uprooting democracy in Cambodia,” Congressman Chabot said. “Cambodia continues to receive preferential trade status when dealing with the United States while he continues to trample on the rights of his people. In light of his actions, it is time for us to reevaluate this special treatment.”  

Cambodia currently receives preferential trade treatment under the General System of Preferences (GSP). Under the GSP program, specific products from recognized developing countries can enter the United States duty-free. Cambodia received the preferential status in 1997 and Cambodia currently exports more than $180 million a year in goods to the U.S. duty-free under the program. The U.S. last renewed Cambodia’s GSP status in April 2018.

Last month, Senators Ted Cruz (TX) and Chris Coons (DE) introduced identical legislation in the Senate.

The European Union, citing human rights violations by Hun Sen’s regime, has also begun a process to suspend their own preferential trading status granted to Cambodia.


Click here to read the text of the bill.
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