For the second time in less than two weeks, a local rice exporter has reached out to European Union institutions to express dissatisfaction regarding the possible imposition of tariffs on Cambodian rice.
In a letter addressed to the European Commission and the EU Embassy in Phnom Penh, Chan Sokheang, chairman and CEO of Signatures of Asia, criticised the European bloc for considering the activation of a safeguard clause that would see the imposition of tariffs on rice exports from the Kingdom as a way to protect farmers in Europe, particularly those in Spain and Italy.
“We, Signatures of Asia Co., Ltd, a rice millers and exporter from Cambodia, would like to write this official letter to express our disagreement with your intention to temporarily introduce a safeguard clause measure on Indica rice from Cambodia,” the letter said.
“As per our business model, we work directly with farmers from 11 cooperative following organic farming techniques. Our cooperation has improved the livelihoods and living standards of these farmers. We have directly impacted approximately 4,000 smallholder families in 3 Cambodia provinces: Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom and Stung Treng.”
A similar letter was sent on Nov 16 by Amru Rice, one of the Kingdom’s largest rice exporters.
Signatures of Asia’s letter – titled “Our Farmers should be fairly treated as Italian or Spain farmers for the fairer farmer and better world” – was addressed to Frederic Michiels, deputy head of unit of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade, and George Edgar, the EU Ambassador to Cambodia.
The letter said activating the safeguard clause would have a serious impact on Signatures of Asia’s farmers, adding that these farmers deserved to be treated fairly.
“Cambodian farmers are no different from those in Italian, Spain or any other country. Therefore, we again would like to ask for your understanding in the matter. Please take the right decision for a better world and fair terms for all farmers,” Signatures of Asia added.
According to the letter, the EU absorbs 90 percent of Signatures of Asia’s production – which nears 3,000 metric tonnes a year – while the US market receives the rest.
In the previous letter sent to the European bloc by a Cambodian rice exporter, Song Saran, Amru Rice CEO, said the EU should avoid imposing tariffs on Cambodian rice since Cambodia’s share of the market is too small for its products to impact the pricing of rice from European farmers.