EU reinstates duties on Myanmar, Cambodia rice

17 January 2019
EU reinstates duties on Myanmar, Cambodia rice
A Myanmar workers pushes a sack of rice on a transport cart to pile it up at the storage of a rice mill in the town of oulmeingyun in the Ayeyarwaddy region, Myanmar. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

The European Commission will reinstate duties on rice from Myanmar and Cambodia after a surge in cheap imports that hurt European producers, the EU's executive arm said Wednesday.

Starting Friday, it will apply a duty of 175 euros per tonne of Indica rice in the first year, reducing it to 150 euros per tonne in the second year and 125 euros per tonne in the third year.

"An investigation has confirmed a significant increase of imports of Indica rice from Cambodia and Myanmar into the European Union that has caused economic damage to European producers," the Commission said.

"The European Commission has therefore decided today to re-introduce import duties that will be steadily reduced over a period of three years," it said in a statement.

In a probe launched last March, the Commission found that Indica rice imports from Cambodia and Myanmar have increased by 89 percent in the last five seasons.

The Commission said it also found that "the prices were substantially lower than those on the EU market" and dropped over the same period.

It said the surge in cheaper imports had caused European producers to see their market share in the European Union plummet from 61 percent to 29 percent.

Italy had asked for protection in February, receiving support from all the other EU rice producers in Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

In April 2017, European producers denounced a "critical situation," with Cambodia exporting 345,000 tonnes of rice in 2016, up from 8,000 in 2009.

Around 12,000 rice producers operate in eight countries of the EU, with half of the production coming from Italy.

Cambodia and Myanmar benefit from the EU's Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme, which unilaterally grants duty-and quota-free access to the world's least developed countries except weapons.