Cambodia appeals EU rice tariff at European court

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Cambodia on Thursday said it would take the EU to the European court after Brussels slapped the Asian country’s rice imports with expensive tariffs.

The move comes after the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, in January imposed duties on Indica rice imports from Cambodia and Myanmar for three years.

The EU had complained of a “significant” increase in Indica rice imports over the last five years, which had punished European producers, most notably in Italy.

The market share of EU producers fell over this period from 61 percent to 29 percent, the commission said.

“The safeguard measures are fundamentally misguided and a misapplication of EU law,” a statement from the Cambodian Rice Federation said.

“The reintroduction of import duties is detrimental to the Cambodian economy and its industry, but above all to its people,” it said.

Until January, Cambodia and Myanmar had benefited fully from the Everything But Arms initiative, which allows developing countries to export their products to the EU with zero duties.

Indica rice from the two countries is  subject to a duty of 175 euros ($197.25) per ton in the first year, dropping to 150 euros in the second and 125 euros in the third year.

Contacted by AFP, the commission declined to comment.

Cambodia and Myanmar already face losing their special access to the world’s largest market over their human rights records in a separate process.