Cambodian leader willing to lose EU trade privileges

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen says it is more important for his country to maintain its independence and sovereignty than to retain special trading privileges that the European Union has threatened to withdraw.

The EU announced earlier this year that it would begin a monitoring process to decide whether to end duty-free and quota-free imports from Cambodia because of concerns it has a poor record in human and labor rights.

The EU on Nov. 12 completed a preliminary report on its evaluation, giving Cambodia one month to respond. The report is confidential, but it is believed to be critical of Cambodia for failing to improve its rights record.

A decision on whether to withdraw the privileges is supposed to be made by February next year.

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