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Europe: major rice target

CAMBODIA is looking to Europe as its most important market for rice exports in 2011, with aims to quadruple global exports this year, according to Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun.

“The European Union is to be the major market for Cambodian rice exports this year, as we hope the EU will continue providing tax exemptions for Cambodia,” he said.

The European bloc’s 27 member states have granted duty free imports to Least Developed Countries including Cambodia under its “Everything But Arms” initiative. Cambodia exported some 40,000 tonnes of the grain to Europe in 2010, he said.

Speaking to The Post at an agricultural show in Kandal province on Saturday, Chan Sarun said that Cambodia projects exporting 200,000 tonnes of rice to global buyers this year, up from 50,000 total tonnes of exports during 2010.

However, he did not specify how much of the targeted 200,000 tonnes of rice would be sold to Europe, and how much would be exported to other countries.

Earlier this month, Economics Institute of Cambodia director Sok Hach raised concerns that the EU’s exemptions would expire at the end of 2011, but Chan Sarun downplayed the concern on Saturday.

“We will request the EU to continue import tax exemptions on our rice, in order to motivate our price producers to increase productivity,” he said. Rafael Dochao Moreno, Chargé d’ Affaires of the EU Delegation to Cambodia, said earlier this month that there were no plans for exemptions to end this year, adding the program’s guidelines guarantee that no substantive changes would be made for the whole period of 2006 to 2015.

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