Germany has provided 65.5 million dollars (58.6 million euros) for rural infrastructure, health and other social programmes in Cambodia, while noting that respect for human rights underscored development cooperation.
This is according to a statement issued by the German embassy in Phnom Penh. The new commitments include a 30-million-euro concessional loan for rural infrastructure and 28.6 million euros in grants toward nutrition, public health and other development programmes.
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Parliamentary State Secretary, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Norbert Barthl said, “Cambodia could avoid losing its trade preferences if political and civic spaces were opened. The country could ensure that national law and practice were brought in line with international rights obligations.”
Cambodia was the “fastest growing country” in East Asia in 2018, sustaining at least seven per cent real growth annually since 2011. While the nation’s official poverty rate continues to decline, about one in four Cambodians remain “vulnerable to falling back into poverty” when exposed to external shocks, according to the World Bank.
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The majority of the poor live in rural areas. In February, the EU began a year-long process that could result in the suspension of Cambodia’s duty-free access to the European market over a failure to meet human rights standards.
The threat followed 2018 elections in which the long-ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen won all parliamentary seats on offer after the Supreme Court dissolved the main opposition party.
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The party ban was part of an ongoing government crackdown against the opposition, civil society and independent media.