According to Eurostat data in 2016 the EU imported 33 500 t of rice from Vietnam, 4% down from the previous year, and less than half the peak reached in 2013 (about 75 000 t). Over the past 3 years, imports from Vietnam are in line with historic averages. Moreover, the Free Trade Agreement with Vietnam has not yet entered into force; therefore the Commission cannot adopt any measure on the basis of that agreement. At the same time, EU rice imports from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in South East Asia benefitting from duty-free quota-free access under Regulation 978/2012(1) have increased over the past years, notably those originating from Cambodia, which is today the largest rice exporter to the EU. The Commission is well aware of the importance of the LDC rice imports to the European rice industry. It has currently in place a system of rice import surveillance, for which weekly statistics are compiled as regards rice imports into the EU from all origins.
Under Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers(2) rice producers may already indicate voluntarily the origin of their products to satisfy consumer demand. In May 2015, the Commission issued a report(3) on the mandatory indication of the country of origin or place of provenance for unprocessed foods, single ingredient products and ingredients that represent more than 50% of a food. It concluded that voluntary origin labelling, combined with existing mandatory origin labelling regimes, is the most suitable option to provide information on the origin for those foods at the EU level. Therefore, the Commission is not planning to propose a mandatory origin labelling for rice at EU level.