Brussels, 14 October 2013/ ACP: Ministers in from charge of the sugar sector in ACP countries are meeting in Fiji from October 14-18, 2013 to discuss the future of the industry in light of the reforms to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which includes the market organisation for sugar.

The EU decided several months ago to major reforms to the CAP, including the abolishment of sugar quotas by 2017, strongly opposed by the ACP Sugar group.
The Prime Minister of Fiji, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama opened the event by underlining the high stakes involved for many ACP countries:
“For many of us, sugar cane is not just some incidental crop that can be easily replaced. It is a primary agricultural export, at the very core of our economies and a principal source income for huge segments of our populations – in Fiji’s case, 200-thousand people or more 20 per cent of all Fijians. In some ACP countries, sugar exports account for more than one quarter of GDP and 85 per cent of total agricultural exports.” Read the full speech here
The Prime Minister laid out key challenges for ACP sugar suppliers, including “inconsistent support” provided through the EU’s Accompanying Measures Support Programme, the threat of an end to privileged market access by 2014 under the ACP-EU Economic Partnership Agreements, and the end of the EU quotas for ACP suppliers by 2017.
At the same time, ACP countries have embarked on major reform and restructuring programmes to ensure the long-term sustainability of their sugar cane industries. As a key market for ACP sugar exports, Commodore Bainimarama called on the EU for “certainty and consistency” in trade relations with the ACP to allow the reforms to take root.
In his keynote address, European Commission Deputy Director-General for Development Cooperation, EuropeAid, Marcus Cornaro assured ministers of the importance of their countries’ contribution to the EU sugar market, with sugar imports from ACP states comprising 60 per cent of total sugar imports into the EU.
“I know that this matter was and remains very close to the ACP constituency. But I am also convinced that this process will be a win-win for European and ACP sugar producers, as quotas stifle, rather than stimulate growth and job creation, including in rural areas,” he said.
The ACP Sugar Group has criticised the decision to abolish sugar quotas before 2020, as potentially destructive for ACP sugar supplying economies.
The ministerial spokesperson for the Sugar Group Hon. Satya Faugoo called for serious reflection on the issues, as well as all options to increase the revenue base of the cane industry, including non-traditional and value-added use of sugar.
“The Conference will aim to address these issues in details, take stock of the latest developments and assess the likely implications of the end of the EU sugar quotas for ACP suppliers. It is also an opportunity for us, in the spirit of unity and solidarity to give some thoughts on the future outlook of the ACP sugar in a quota free regime and devise appropriate strategy for future action in order to ensure market stability and a fair level of remuneration for ACP Sugar,” he told participants.
The conference aims to address issues at political and technical levels, with sessions dedicated to major policy developments, EU market perspectives, strategic assessment of threats and opportunities in the sector, promoting competitiveness, managing challenges and WTO negotiations, and a field visit to a local sugar factory.
– ACP Press