Sunday, 14 July 2013

How the European Union is shafting the Cambodian farmers

By Tim Worstall

Apparently the actions of the European Union mean that scores of thousands of dirt poor Cambodian farmers are being thrown off their land. This could indeed be something that we could become righteously outraged about: despite the fact that the information source is The Guardian.
If you're reading this article with a cup of coffee, you should think twice before adding sugar to your brew. If it's from Cambodia, it may be tainted – not by chemical pesticides or fertiliser, but by human rights abuses. And if you're reading this in the European Union, here's something else you should know: EU trade policy is encouraging these abuses, and the European commission has yet to do anything about it.
Cambodia falls under the Everything But Arms (EBA) tier of the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), which means that it – like other least-developed countries – can export sugar and a host of other products to the EU duty free. It might seem like a pretty sweet deal in theory, but it has not been so great in practice for many Cambodians. In fact, it's been a disaster. The underlying issue is a fight over land. Cambodia is in the midst of a massive land-grabbing crisis that has seen nearly 2.2m hectares taken from mostly poor farmers and given to private firms as long-term economic land concessions.
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