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Home > News Updates > News Headlines
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EU COUNTRIES MOVE TO CURB CAMBODIAN RICE IMPORTS
12/8/2017

ASIA NEWS NETWORK (08/12/2017)

EU COUNTRIES MOVE TO CURB CAMBODIAN RICE IMPORTS

PHNOM PENH (Phnom Penh Post/ANN Desk) -– But industry insiders confident of escaping penalty for crackdown on kingdom’s democracy.

The European Commission is mulling a fresh request from Italy and six other European Union countries to limit rice imports from Cambodia. The request, made on November 20, was for triggering of a “safeguard clause” that allows EU member states to impose barriers to protect against trade imbalances.

Local industry insiders said that the request is typical of Italy’s annual protectionist complaints but say it represents a more concerted effort than a similar submission in 2016.

While the report called the request “trailblazing” and a more concerted effort compared to a similar submission to the commission in 2016 Cambodian rice exports to Europe have more than doubled in the past five years, creating a trade imbalance that totaled $4.6 billion by the end of last year, according to Euractiv News.

The Italian Ministry of Agriculture said the request was reasonable because the flood of Cambodian long-grain rice into Europe, which is a third of the price of domestic rice, has led to a sharp drop in prices and overproduction.

Under the Everything But Arms programme, Cambodia does not pay any tax on its rice exports to EU member states.

Hun Lak, vice president of the Cambodian Rice Federation, said this was not the first time that Italy had tried to raise import limitations against Cambodian rice to the European Commission.

“EU member countries, especially Italy, always raise the same complaints about Cambodian imports every year, but this will not impact us because we offer types of rice that are different to anything that is grown in Europe,” he said. 

He added that he had met with a European delegate recently, but had been assured that Cambodia’s high volume of rice exports was not a highly contentious issue despite perceived concerns by the EU over Cambodia’s political deterioration. The kingdom is in the grip of a crackdown on political dissent that has seen the only viable opposition party dissolved, its leaders charged with treason, and independent media and NGOs shuttered. 

Chan Sokheang, executive director of HCC group Co, was similarly optimistic that the political environment in Cambodia would not cause the commission to bow to Italy’s request.
“It is the right of the European Commission to decide to limit rice exports to the European market in light of Italy’s request and current political tensions in Europe,” he said. “Even so, a limit on our exports will not impact our rice industry, because we have a lot of deals with China.”

Cambodia exported 288,562 tonnes of rice in the first six months the year, an increase of 7.6 per cent compared with the same period last year, Reuters reports. Exports to China, Cambodia’s top export market, accounted for 94,720 tonnes.

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