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CRF awaits response from EU

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:
Men move sacks of rice in a warehouse in Phnom Penh. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The European Court of Justice has yet to make a pronouncement regarding a lawsuit filed by the Cambodia Rice Federation in April against the European Union’s decision to impose tariffs on Cambodian Indica rice.

The information was revealed during a CRF meeting Friday chaired by president Sok Puthivuth.

Speaking to Khmer Times on Sunday, Hun Lak, CRF vice president, confirmed that the association has not yet heard back for the EU regarding the lawsuit.

“We have not received any feedback from them yet. We will keep following up this case because it is an important issue that may have a big impact on our rice sector,” Mr Lak said.

CRF has urged the Ministry of Commerce to bring the case to the World Trade Organisation, Mr Lak said.

The European Union imposed tariffs in January on Cambodian and Burmese rice to curb what it said was a surge in imports from these countries that was detrimental to EU producers, particularly those in Italy and Spain.

During the first year, 175 euros ($199.5) per tonne are being levied, followed by 150 euros ($171) in the second year, and 125 euros ($142.5) in the last.

In April, Cambodia asked fellow Asean member states to issue a joint declaration to the European Union decrying the EU’s decision to impose import duties on Cambodian rice.

Chan Sokheang, chairman and CEO of Signatures of Asia, said Cambodia must negotiate with the EU to find a solution that will benefit farmers at home.

“We have to do our best talking and negotiating with the European Union. We must ask them to consider removing the tariffs to help Cambodian rice farmers,” Mr Sokheang said.

“We don’t know what the outcome of the negotiations will be but we still have hope,” he added.

Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice, on Thursday said that he supports the measures taken so far by Cambodia to protect its Indica rice against the tariffs. He also called for producers to strengthen the quality of rice products to remain competitive in the European market.

“We have to fight against these tariffs but, at the same time, we must work to improve the quality of our rice,” Mr Saran said. “If we can improve our quality, consumers in the EU will continue to buy Cambodian rice despite the tariffs.”

Cambodia exported 626,225 tonnes of rice to international markets in 2018, a drop of 1.5 percent compared to 2017.

The largest market for Cambodian rice continues to be the European Union, which imported almost 270,000 tonnes, equivalent to 42.9 percent of total exports.

By individual country, the largest buyer was China (170,000 tonnes), followed by France (90,000 tonnes), Malaysia (40,000 tonnes), Gabon (30,000 tonnes), and the Netherlands (26,000 tonnes).

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