Rice Federation reacts to safeguards

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KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) and the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia have recently taken legal steps to fight the imposition of safeguard measure on imports of Cambodian rice into the European Union. The CRF believes that all strands of Cambodian society will rally behind these efforts to stand up for the Kingdom’s interests.

Following the editorial published on 29 April 2019 in the Khmer Times, the CRF has some clarifications to make. The unknown author of the editorial seems to have relied on basic approximations and misrepresents the efforts undertaken to protect our economy from the ripple effects of domestic EU politics.

The EU’s rules governing this scheme do indeed include the possibility for the Union to take so called safeguard measures. This should nonetheless never be an arbitrary step. The EU’s own rules explicitly state that in order to do so the Union needs to demonstrate and support claims that Cambodian imports harm EU producers. Both the author of your editorial and the CRF agree that they do not.

The CRF and the government will prove this to the EU General Court and obtain the annulment of the measure. Indeed, as you further write, the EU measure was imposed “to supposedly curb a surge in imports to EU nations when the real reason was possibly to protect their rice producers who don’t even produce Jasmine rice”. We fully agree, and the CRF believes that it is not for Cambodian rice producers to pay the price of EU domestic discrepancies. And this is why contesting the measures is the right thing to do.

We should be forthcoming and assertive with our partners and undeterred by issues of relative size or the outcome of previous unrelated matters. And we should actually not be afraid to raise the matter elsewhere as these measures are a taste of how the EU might treat any of its ASEAN partners, which as you point out already have their own issues.

The EU’s strength is derived in no small measure from pooling its member states’ interests. The decision by the Ministry of Commerce to inform our neighbors of this significant development is wise and welcome. The Kingdom of Cambodia is taking a leading role which should be supported.

We support reforms that improve our economy’s competitiveness. The EU is and will continue to be a vital partner for Cambodia. But we hope you agree that this important discussion should not prevent us from taking all necessary steps to assert our rights with this important partner. The CRF remains determined to do so.

Cambodia Rice Federation

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