Cambodia blasts EU move to consider lifting trade privileges

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia has issued a strong response to the European Union's announcement that it is beginning the process to withdraw preferential duty-free and quota-free status for imports from Cambodia.

Cambodia's Foreign Affairs Ministry on Tuesday called the decision an "extreme injustice" that ignored steps the government has taken to improve civil and political rights.

In announcing the measure on Monday, E.U. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom charged Cambodia with "severe deficiencies when it comes to human rights and labor rights."

The European action begins a six-month monitoring process, and the withdrawal of privileges could be decided in a year.

Cambodia said the European move "takes the risk of negating 20 years' worth of development efforts" that have helped pull millions of Cambodians out of poverty.