The European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht started his visit to Cambodia on Tuesday to bolster bilateral trade link.
De Gucht held talks with his Cambodian counterpart Sun Chanthol and both sides agreed to further promote bilateral trade relations for mutual benefits, Ken Ratha, spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, said after the meeting.
"The commissioner also raised concerns over land disputes related to sugar plantations and recent garment workers strikes," he said.
According to Ratha, Sun Chanthol informed the commissioner said that special committees have been formed to deal with these matters.
"The minister promised that Cambodia would provide a detailed report in response to the EU concerns and would send it to the European Parliament as soon as possible," he said.
According to the non-governmental organizations familiar with land disputes between sugar plantations and local communities, the plantations have allegedly grabbed the land of at least 3,500 families in the provinces of Koh Kong, Kampong Speu and Oddar Meanchey.
Cambodia has exported sugar to EU since 2010. Last year, the country sold 65,000 tons of sugar worth 53.4 million U.S. dollars to EU, according to a EU statement.
As a Least Developed Country, Cambodia gets duty free access to the EU for exports of all products.
Bilateral trade between EU and Cambodia reached 3.9 billion U.S. dollars last year, up 34 percent year-on-year, said the EU statement. Cambodian exports to the EU rose by 30 percent to 3.34 billion U.S. dollars last year.
The EU was Cambodia's biggest export market, and main items Cambodia exported to EU were clothing, footwear, bicycle, rice and sugar.
Cambodia is the second leg of De Gucht's tour to 3 ASEAN nations, which has brought him to Vietnam and his next stop is Myanmar.