The European Commission’s reinstatement of import tariffs on Indica rice will have limited impact on Myanmar rice exports as only a small volume of the rice variety is shipped to the EU, said U Aung Than Oo, the Chairman of the Myanmar Rice Traders Association.
“We exported about 400,000 tonnes of rice to EU last year. Of the total rice exported, about 40,000 tonnes was of the Indica variety. Therefore, EU’s restoring of tariffs on Indica rice will not have a huge impact on Myanmar rice exports,” said U Aung Than Oo.
“However, it is expected that buyers may make use of the situation and offer a lower price for Myanmar rice. If we work together, we can overcome this possible challenge,” he said.
Dr. Soe Tun, Member of the Central Executive Committee of the Myanmar Rice Federation, has urged companies which export Indica rice to explore new markets.
Myanmar currently benefits from the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP).
The European Union’s tariffs against Cambodia and Myanmar came after an EU investigation in March 2018, requested by the Italian government the previous month.
The goal of the tariffs is to protect EU-based producers from a surge in imports. The duties will amount to €175 (US$200) per metric ton in the first year, €150 a ton in the second year, and €125 in the third.
Italy has claimed that imports of Indica rice from Cambodia and Myanmar have increased substantially, and that their respective EU market shares of Indica rice grew from 13 per cent to 21 per cent and from zero per cent to 5 per cent over the last five years.
“The impact from the tariffs on Indica rice will not affect the total market of our rice. But to find a new market, the private sector and the government must work together,” said U Nay Lin Zin, the Joint Secretary of the Myanmar Rice Federation.
EU is currently Myanmar’s sixth-largest trading partner. Bilateral trade between the two partners equalled €2.09 billion in 2017. The EU imported goods worth €1.55 million from Myanmar and exported goods worth almost €539 million to the frontier market. EU imports from Myanmar chiefly comprise agricultural products and garments. —Nyein Nyein (Translated by Kyaw Zin Lin)