Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sanctions and the EU

Sanctions and the EU

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Rice seller near Phnom Penh Railway Station. Hong Menea

Sanctions and the EU

Has the EU just shot itself in the foot? The EU has been threatening to sanction Cambodia, for not conducting its elections as it was told to do, by withdrawing tariff exemptions under the Everything But Arms agreement.

But then, on January 16, the European Commission announced it was going to start imposing tariffs on Cambodian rice.

The reason? Nothing to do with elections, sanctions, arms or the like. No – it was only to protect European rice “producers” (in reality, probably not the producers but the big agribusinesses that exploit the real producers).

The move was in response to “a significant increase” of Cambodian (and Myanmar) rice imports into Europe. One might have thought that the aim of tariff exemptions was to allow an increase of imports of the relevant commodity. Clearly, such a view is naive.

The real aim is to portray the EU as magnanimously trying to help less developed countries – on the condition that doing so not impinge on the interests of anyone in Europe who matters. Your products can be tariff-free unless an EU competitor complains.

The European Commission statement says that the new import tax will be gradually reduced over three years. That will happen unless the EC changes its mind. For example, if the tax hasn’t sufficiently reduced Cambodian and Myanmar imports by then, it could be extended, or even increased, just as arbitrarily as the way in which it has just been imposed. Western “aid” tends to be like that.

So the message from the EU is this: Don’t do as you’re told and you’ll lose our “assistance”. Or do as you’re told and you’ll still lose our “assistance” when we feel like it.

It rather reduces the effectiveness of the sanctions threat, doesn’t it?

Allen Myers,
Phnom Penh

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

MOST VIEWED

  • Forest Harmony’s $18M luxury villas break ground in Kampot

    Local and French joint-venture Forest Harmony has broken ground on its $18 million “second-home” Luxury Holiday Villas project in Kampot province. Century 21 Mekong CEO and local shareholder of the project Chrek Soknim told The Post that the project will comprise 90 villa units covering 18ha on a 97

  • US, Cambodia pledge to strengthen military ties

    The US on Tuesday pledged to help train military officers, particularly Cambodia’s blue helmet troops deployed for UN’s peacekeeping operations. The pledge was made during a meeting between US ambassador Patrick Murphy and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commander-in-chief General Vong Pisen. Further

  • Rights Day forum denied in Sihanoukville

    The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration last Saturday denied the request of land communities for a public location in the province to celebrate International Human Rights Day 2019 as the administration had already held forums to discuss land issues. However, the land community representatives said they would

  • Sokha lodges an appeal over treason case reaching court

    Kem Sokha, the president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has appealed against the decision to send his treason case to trial. Sokha’s legal team said their client was not satisfied with the decision of a Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating

  • Gov’t approves $9B worth of building projects in 2019

    The government has approved more than $9 billion this year for capital investment in the construction sector, a nearly 80 per cent increase on last year, with most of the growth coming from projects in Sihanoukville, according to Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea

  • King rescinds oknha honorific of 46 National Police officials

    The oknha titles of 46 National Police officials with the rank of general, as well as senior officials in the ministries of Interior and National Defence, will be withdrawn following a royal decree from King Norodom Sihamoni. National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun told The Post