Cambodia has won a lawsuit against the European Commission's decision to revoke tariffs on rice imports from the Kingdom into the European Union.
According to a press release from the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) on November 30, Cambodia won case T-269/19, in which the European Commission imposed tariff restrictions for the import of rice from Cambodia to the European Union (EU) in accordance with Regulation No. 2019/76 dated January 16, 2019.
It said that CRF, under the direction of Sok Puthivuth, filed the lawsuit on April 10 in an EU court. It demanded justice for Cambodia's rice exports to the EU, particularly long-grain rice, which is taxed by the European Commission.
“A ruling issued on November 9, 2022, by the General Court of the European Union (EU), said that the European Commission's application of tariffs on Cambodian long-grain rice in the EU market is unlawful and lacks sufficient evidence,” it said.
Hong Vannak, an economic researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that Cambodia will see significant economic gains when the EU lifts the tariff as the European Union consumes roughly 180,000 tons of Cambodian rice annually.
“If we were tax-exempt, Cambodia would be tremendously prosperous,” he said. “Also, the majority of these revenues go to the rice farmer, producer, and other stakeholders.”
He said that it will provide farmers, traders, and merchants with more alternatives for producing agricultural products, leading to more jobs and higher incomes due to a larger market. Additionally, it will boost the inflow of foreign currency into the Cambodian economy.
“The farmer or merchant in rice will be driven. As Cambodia now does not supply the EU with enough rice, I believe that if the tax exemption is maintained, Cambodia will be able to raise its production and issue rice in response to EU demand or amount,” he added.
He urged all relevant stakeholders to cooperate to assure the quality of rice made in Cambodia, which is the identity of Cambodian rice, to fulfil EU demands as the aim of the tax exemption is to assist the people of Cambodia.
However, he believes that occasionally the demand is not coincidental and might occur as a result of disputes between the two major nations, causing a food crisis.
“So Europe, they are invading on the chance or maybe creating a whirlwind with the procedure of exempting food imports,” he said. “What interests me is that the Cambodian tax started in 2019 and didn't end until early January 2022.”
The EU made the decision to charge tariffs for three years starting from January 18, 2019, on rice imported from Cambodia. In 2019, the tariff was 175 euros (about $200) per tonne. In 2020, with a price of 150 euros (or $170) per ton, and in 2021, with a price of 125 euros (or $142) per ton.