- Published: Tuesday, 30 July 2019 09:25
On June 30, the EU and Cambodia’s neighbour, Vietnam, signed a groundbreaking new trade agreement that was hailed as the “most ambitious free trade deal between the EU and an emerging economy to date” by Vietnam’s Minister of Industry and Trade,Tran Tuan Anh. Considered a positive development by many the deal nonetheless leads to questions around the EU’s long-standing strategy of linking free trade agreements with human rights objectives. Even the EU’s own lawmakers within the European Parliament — whose approval is required before the deal can go ahead — have raised concerns about Vietnam’s human rights record. Eyebrows have also been raised elsewhere, particularly when one’s perspective incorporates the EU’s recent equivocation on Cambodia’s preferential status under the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. By a range of objective standards, Cambodia’s admittedly sometimes difficult relationship with human rights and democracy still stands above that of its neighbour.