Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Italy rice row not on agenda

Italy rice row not on agenda

A rice farmer checks his immerged plantation of rice near Vercelli
A rice farmer checks his immerged plantation of rice near Vercelli, northern Italy, earlier this year. AFP

Italy rice row not on agenda

Prime Minister Hun Sen and more than 50 other heads of state from Asia and Europe will meet next week as part of the tenth Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM).

Held from October 16 to 17 in Milan, Italy, the biennial summit will this year focus on strengthening economic ties between the two regions, which together represent some 60 per cent of the world’s population and about half of global GDP.

“Cambodia is not a big country, it is a relatively small country, but in such a forum it is a country equal to all the others,” Alain Vandersmissen, charge d’affaires at the European Union Delegation to Cambodia, said yesterday.

“That can really give to Cambodia an amplification of its role, ideas and representation. And I would guess that this is important for the Cambodian government in the context of the ASEAN Economic Community 2015.”

The summit, which is being hosted by the Italian government, comes just days after Confagricoltura Novara, Italy’s peak body for farmers and agricultural production, issued yet another call to the EU to trim Cambodia’s “Everything But Arms” (EBA) import preferences.

Paola Battioli, head of the farmers union, said on October 2 on the global rice industry website, Oryza.com, that up to 100,000 hectares of European rice growing area could be “abandoned” if the EU does not put a stop to zero-duty rice imports from Cambodia.

“There is no way a European farmer can face competition with incoming rice of Cambodian Indica,” Battiolli said.

“Italian Long B milled rice has a production cost of €550 ($693) per tonne. To be competitive, it should cost no more than €430 ($542) per tonne, and this means bankruptcy for farmers.”

The Oryza report states that EU imports of Cambodian rice increased 60 per cent between September 2013 and August this year, totalling 245,000 tonnes.

In response to mounting pressure from that country’s agricultural sector, the Italian government in July submitted a complaint to the EU Commission over Cambodia’s allegedly unfair EBA preferences.

When asked if Cambodia and Italy would discuss the complaint during the ASEM Summit, the local EU Delegation’s representative, Vandersmissen said it was not on the summit’s agenda.

“What happens in the corridors, I have no idea,” Vandersmissen said.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished