Monday, July 18, 2011

Fiji Delegation to Beg EU to be Fair on Sugar & Refrain from Politics!

Fiji Sun News - 18 July 2011

The European Union (EU) should confine themselves to the trade agreement and should not involve themselves with politics.That is the view of Government and what Fiji’s delegation will be lobbying for while at the 12th ACP (African Caribbean Pacific) Ministerial Conference on Sugar to be held in Maputo, Mozambique, next week.

Director for Sugar, Viliame Gucake, said Fiji would seek the support of ministers at the conference.This is to highlight that sugar funds are linked to the trade aspect of the Sugar Protocol and meant to address the implication of the EU sugar reform and the drastic price cuts.“ The continued delay in the EU funding earmarked for Fiji (as a long term traditional sugar supplier under the Sugar Protocol) will have widespread socio-economic implications and have a devastating effect on the sugar industry,” Mr Gucake said. He said they were pleased and welcomed the European Commission’s decision to allocate to Fiji an initial amount of Euro 52 million (FJ$130.3m) for the second phase (2011-2013) of the programme. Mr Gucake said Fiji was eligible for this allocation as a signatory state of the ACP-EU protocol. However, it was critical for the European Union to release this money rather than hold it back for political reasons.

Fiji’s delegation to the Maputo Conference will be led by the Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, in his capacity as the Minister for Sugar.The other members of the delegation include Ambassador Peceli Vocea, counsellor Nidhen Singh, Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan, Mr Gucake and Major Penioni Naliva of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Mr Gucake said the conference would take stock of the experience to-date in managing the transitional phase and addressed ACP response to new market opportunities and the stand the Group should take on the future of the EU sugar regime.“ Fiji, collectively with the ACP Group, needs to ensure that the transition period is managed in such a way to avoid the collapse of the EU sugar market.“ This would be counter-productive and would adversely affect the value of our access and much-needed export earnings derived from sugar exports to the EU.“ This is a common position with the ACP suppliers and reflected in the ACP submission in the context of the future EU sugar regime.“ Moreover, collectively with the ACP Sugar Group, Fiji needs to closely monitor the developments on the future reforms of the EU Sugar Regime and ensure that the level of preference granted to the ACP preferential suppliers are not eroded further which could adversely impact our interests,” he said. Mr Gucake said Fiji supports the maintenance of a stable and commercially attractive price that will ensure predictable and sustainable export earnings to all ACP suppliers.

For Fiji, he said, it is crucial to ensure that there remained a level of preference which allows the industry to remain viable. He said Fiji sugar exports to the EU, since October 1, 2009, had been managed by the I-EPA provisions and the EC sugar import regulations which were being implemented at the all-ACP level. Fiji’s agreed Minimum Access Quantity for export of sugar to the European Union market is about 220,000 tonnes as from the 2011/2012 marketing year.

Mr Gucake said the various initiatives being undertaken by Government in the context of the current restructure and reform of the industry, with the support of the major stakeholders, were aimed to ensure that this target is consistently achieved.

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