Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) officials have refuted claims that the Kingdom’s rice exports to the US will hurt farmers there.
This comes as the USA Rice Federation (USA Rice), a global advocate for all segments of the US rice industry, testified at the US International Trade Commission (USITC) hearing late last month, supporting the removal of rice from a list of eligible commodities under GSP.
USA Rice said the US has long provided GSP benefits to developing countries, providing duty-free access, though it is only for parboiled rice.
For least-developed countries like Cambodia and Myanmar, all rice is eligible for duty-free access into the US.
USA Rice submitted a petition to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) in March, which has since moved forward into the formal review process.
Information seen by The Post last week said as part of the 2020 Annual Review for modification of the GSP programme, the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) has decided to accept certain product petitions for review.
“USTR accepted the petition to remove rice products from GSP. It’s under consideration. USITC held a hearing on whether rice should be removed.
“USITC will submit a confidential report to USTR by August 31. USTR is expected to issue a ruling on or before October 31, and becomes effective on or before November 1,” the TPSC said.
It said the countries affected are Thailand, India (which lost GSP status in June last year), Pakistan, Brazil, Vietnam, Argentina and Cambodia.
CRF president Song Saran told a meeting at the Ministry of Commerce on Monday: “US imports of Cambodian rice are not a detriment to their farmers because only 2,000 tonnes are shipped there per annum.
“These are of the indica rice, organic and fragrant romduol varieties, which are different from the ones grown in the US.”
US farmers are more known to grow varieties such as Japonica rice, and its medium-grain variant Calrose, he said.
CRF secretary-general Lun Yeng told The Post on Tuesday that although striking rice off the list of eligible commodities under GSP would stifle exports to the US, its impact on overall rice exports would be miniscule.
He noted that the Kingdom exported about 2,000 tonnes of rice to the US last year and just slightly more than 1,000 tonnes in the first half of this year.
“Taking into account that shipments to the US market account for less than one per cent of Cambodia’s total rice exports, there won’t be much of a repercussion,” Yeng said, acknowledging that small-scale organic-rice farmers would face most of the risks of the transition.
Local media reported Yeng as saying that with the removal of GSP, a $20 per tonne tax will be applied on imports of Cambodian rice.
Commerce ministry spokesman Seang Thay told The Post that his ministry currently does not have any concrete measures in place to respond to a potential withdrawal.
Monday’s was a “technical meeting to gather feedback and no specific decisions have been made so far”, he said.
Cambodia exported 1,819 tonnes of milled rice to the US market worth $1.672 million last year and 1,100 tonnes worth $1.014 million in the first six months of this year, Thay said.
The Kingdom exported 397,000 tonnes of milled rice to the international market in the first half of this year, surging 41 per cent from the year-ago period, data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries show. The exports reeled in $264 million in revenue.
The primary markets for the Kingdom’s milled rice are China, the EU, the UK and other countries in the ASEAN bloc.