Phnom Penh (FN), Jan. 22 – Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs Prak Sokhonn expressed his regret over recent European Commission’s decision to impose safeguard measures on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar on 16 January 2019.

The statement was made at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat (AMM Retreat) which convened on 17-18 January 2019 in Chiang Mai, Thailand, according to the ministry’s press release dated Sunday.

The Minister also expressed concerns on the use of double standard approach to pick and choose only areas that suit and benefit stronger countries. He also firmly emphasized that Cambodia would not trade its sovereignty for any assistance, the ministry added.

The EU has begun to impose import taxes on rice of Cambodia and Myanmar, which are exported to 28 EU Member States, for a period of three years from 18 January 2019-2021.

The tax will cost Cambodia 175 euros per ton in the first year, 150 euros the second year, and 125 euros the third year.

In 2018, Cambodia exported nearly 300,000 tons of rice to Europe, an equivalent to 43% of the total export volume of 620,000 ton. Commerce experts claimed that Cambodia is likely to lose $50 million per annum.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce said late Friday that the EU's decision on 17 January 2019 did not fully reflect international trade rules, technical standards, truth, and good relations and cooperation between Cambodia and EU.

The EU’s safeguard measure on Indica Rice originating from Cambodia will deprive Cambodian farmers' income, forcing them to commit suicide as a way to end the debt with credit institutions who have given them loans to purchase agricultural inputs.