An EU delegation pledged continued support to Cambodia’s rice exports and ongoing efforts to diversify the Kingdom’s rice export destinations in a statement released last Friday, after a meeting with the Cambodia Rice Federation.
In light of increased opposition by Italian farmers to Cambodian rice exports to the EU, Jean-Francois Cautain, ambassador for the EU, said that there would be continued support to improve the country’s competitiveness, quality and export market diversification. He acknowledged that the rising exports from Cambodia had met with some opposition from certain EU producers.
“Under the EBA-GSP Regulation, the EU Commission monitors the European market, especially with regard to sensitive products. There are clear requirements in the EU law for the application of safeguard measures in cases of injury on EU producers,” he said, in a statement.
Italian rice producer in the past have asked the EU to stop Cambodia’s duty-free rice imports on account of Italian farmers having to compete with lower rice costs, which, they claimed, was below their production costs.
The Cambodia Rice Federation said that while it currently accounts for more than 22 per cent of the EU’s rice imports, there was no attempt to increase this market share, instead steps were being taken to diversify their export markets.
“Although we have seen a rapid export growth towards the EU market in the past three years, we believe that the 2014 export figures already represent a maximum export level that we are comfortable with and it is not in our intention to grow even more our EU market share,” said Sok Puthyvuth, president of CRF.
Cambodia rice export data for the first two months of 2015 indicates a 30 percent decline in EU exports, compared to the same period in 2014. Whereas the country’s rice export to Asian markets has grown three-fold, as part of the recent process of market diversification according to the release.
The CRF’s statement elaborated on the increase in Cambodia’s fragrant rice exports, while reducing low-end long grain white exports.
“As of 2014, export data had shown that Jasmine & fragrant rice has jumped to nearly 60% of the total Cambodian rice exports,” the release read.
The EU is currently the prime export market for Cambodian rice, which enjoys duty-free exports to the economic bloc under the Everything But Arms scheme, accounting for more than 60 per cent of the total exports.