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Cambodia readies for EU meet on 7-year work plan

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EU delegation to Cambodia’s head of cooperation Franck Viault. CDC

Cambodia readies for EU meet on 7-year work plan

The Kingdom is set to host a consultative meeting with EU representatives and partners based in the country next month and prepare a 2021-2027 joint development cooperation plan that centres on market diversification, according to the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).

The remark was made at a January 11 meeting between the CDC’s Cambodian Rehabilitation and Development Board (CRDB) secretary-general Chheang Yanara and EU delegation to Cambodia’s head of cooperation Franck Viault, the CDC said in a statement.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed preparations for next month’s consultative meeting, which will address the drafts of the Joint European Development Cooperation Strategy for Cambodia for 2021-2027 and the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.

According to the CDC, the joint strategic plan was agreed in principle by both sides, which they determined would effectively diversify the economy and promote the private sector, sustainable development work and human resources development.

The two sides will focus on “priority areas” of the financial framework, including the economy and employment, governance, education and vocational training.

They are to each prepare a draft by the end of this month and collect feedback and suggestions to present at February’s consultative meeting.

Yanara said implementation of the previous iteration of the 2014-2020 joint strategic plan significantly contributed to the sustainable development and economic inclusivity in Cambodia.

The six-year plan focuses on bilateral cooperation in four priority areas – social development, promotion of equitable and sustainable economic growth, urban-rural infrastructure development and governance, he said.

“These achievements are a testament to the continued commitment of the EU and its member states and the Swiss Confederation for the development process in Cambodia,” Yanara said, using Switzerland’s formal name.

Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) president Song Saran welcomed the initiative to develop the joint strategic plan, hoping to bring more benefits to those in the Kingdom’s rice sector.

He said: “I am delighted to see this great initiative and I believe this comprehensive strategy will be taken into consideration for inclusive business models and benefits to the entire supply chain – from farms to food enterprises.

“Cambodian milled-rice exports directly benefit us all, especially farmers. We’d like to have more open trade, particularly rice in EU markets. Therefore, I wish the EU market would make a comeback after milled-rice [tariff] safeguard measures expire in January 2022.”

Cambodia’s rice sector officially lost its import duty exemption granted by the EU in January 2019 after the bloc’s decision to impose tariffs on imports from the Kingdom and Myanmar to protect European rice farmers’ interests.

Effective from January 2019-January 2022, the EU reinstated the normal customs duty on Indica rice from Cambodia and Myanmar of €175 ($210) per tonne in the first year, followed by a drop to €150 in the year two and €125 in the third, according to the European Commission.

In 1992-2020, the EU and 10 other European development partners provided $4.2 billion in financing to Cambodia, equivalent to 19 per cent of total financing provided by all of the Kingdom’s development partners, according to the CDC.

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