Under "Everything But Arms" policy,
the European Union grants tariff free access to goods from developing countries,
that made international standards on democracy.
But a ban preventing the main opposition party from contesting the 2019 election upset the EU,
Cambodias largest export market,
prompting the withdrawal of some trial preferences in mid-August,
costing business an initial one hundred and thirteen million dollars.
The garment manufacturers association says,
the EU earned by withdrawing preferences amid the covid-19 pandemic which has devastated the economy.
Phnom Penh is the seven billion dollar garment industry,
which employs about seven hundred thousand workers,
who each earn around one hundred and ninety dollars a month,
producing the big brands like Levis dress and adidas.
Phen Kosal has worked at Phnom Penh, Cambodia over the last six years,
she says losses from the ABI policy are having a dreadful impact on business,
and amid layoffs lost over time and reduced hours.
Now I am begging for the governments help because of this issue.
Im also in debt with the banks and finance institutions,
which is why Im desperately seeking help.
Her sentiments were echoed by Sao Chen who works at the main dye factory.
He says all overall earnings were down twenty percent,
while his colleagues had been laid off for four to six months.
The main problem we are facing today is some workers are the only breadwinners feeding an entire family at home.
Sometimes their monthly income is only one hundred to two hundred dollars,
and they spend everything on rent, food, kids school,and there are many more costs.
The Garment Manufacturers Association says 450 factories have suspended work and another 83 have closed,
affecting about 15,000 workers.
It says this could push millions of Cambodians back into poverty.
Brands can move to another country if economic or political conditions change,
as many western businessmen and non-governmental organizations did after the elections.
Their workers, however, cannot.
The Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union says they are worried by a lack of orders,
and a fear that big name brands will start sourcing their garments from other countries.
I think the party need to work together to maintain and to keep this benefit for the country and especially for the workers.
But the plight of workers remains uncertain,
and that is unlikely to change amid lost trade and the pandemic.
Luke for VOA News, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.