Lawmakers on Thursday sought additional funding from the E.U. to benefit tourism, mining and exports of rice and garments, despite calls last month by the European Parliament for aid cuts unless Cambodia shows greater respect for human rights.
During a meeting at the National Assembly with an E.U. delegation, senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said he “made requests on three points to the E.U.,” asking for additional support to boost rice exports to Europe, technical expertise to aid garment exports and tourism and investment in mining promotions.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap speaks to reporters after meeting with representatives of the EU at the National Assembly building in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)No specific funding amount was requested. Also during the two-hour meeting, the National Assembly’s finance commission described its processes to the E.U. delegation, Mr. Yeap said.
George Edgar, the E.U. ambassador to Cambodia, confirmed that Mr. Yeap had encouraged greater European investment by noting how important the trade was for Cambodia’s economic development.
“The European Union is Cambodia’s biggest export market and a substantial provider of development cooperation,” Mr. Edgar said in an email.
Asked whether the E.U. would comply with the requests, given the European Parliament’s publicly stated opposition to Cambodian government crackdowns, Mr. Edgar only said that the E.U. “remains committed to the economic and social development of Cambodia.”
The bloc “believes that access to export markets can be an important driver of economic growth to the benefit of all of Cambodia’s people, including the poorest,” he said.
Last month, several European parliamentarians criticized the Cambodian government, describing it as “corrupt” and “a dictatorship” that was “brutally repressing” freedoms.
The European Parliament passed a resolution calling for aid cuts unless Cambodia showed greater respect for human rights.
The E.U. has committed $465 million in aid to Cambodia through 2020, but the resolution urged that the funds be made dependant on improvements in the country’s human rights situation.
(Additional reporting by Michael Dickison)
narim@cambodiadaily.com
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