The ACP ministers responsible for sugar met at the Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort in Fiji from 14-17 October for their 13th ACP Ministerial Conference on Sugar. The Conference was opened by the Prime Minister of Fiji, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and was chaired by the Hon. Satya Veyas Faugoo, Minister responsible for Agro Industry and Food Security of Mauritius and the Chairman of the ACP Ministerial Committee on Sugar.
Ministers reviewed the latest developments which have taken place in the international context regarding sugar since their last Conference in Mozambique in 2011. In particular they focused attention on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform undertaken by the EU which has resulted in the abolition of the sugar quotas in 2017.
Ministers expressed their deep disappointment at this decision despite the representation they had been consistently making to extend the current CAP until 2020, a position which was strongly supported by the European Parliament and the European sugar stakeholders.
Ministers reiterated their fears based on the Commission’s report on the Prospects for Agricultural Markets in the EU 2012-2020 that the end of the EU quota will lead to a reduction of the EU domestic sugar price and make preferential access less attractive.
Ministers re-emphasized the need for certainty and consistency in their trading relationship with the EU especially since with the latter’s support, the ACP countries have embarked upon major reforms and restructuring program to ensure the long term sustainability, of their sugar industries.
Ministers underscored that their countries were small and vulnerable and that the people involved with the sugar industry sought to secure their livelihoods, through a sustainable industry, with predictable and viable revenue. In this context, it was imperative to expand economic opportunities, boost their national economies and lift the overall living standards of all their peoples.
Ministers strongly felt that the EU decision overlooked the impact of its domestic CAP proposals on ACP’s trade and developmental interests and the specific commitment taken by the EU in the Lisbon Treaty and the Cotonou Agreement to ensure EU Policy coherence.
Ministers reiterated the need for the EU to ensure that their preferences are not further eroded by the new Free Trade Agreements being negotiated with other parties.
Ministers urged the European Commission to exercise flexibility in the on-going EPA negotiations in order to avoid the loss of market access to the EU for those countries who may not have completed negotiations in time for the necessary legislations to be put in place by 30th September 2014. They further requested the EU to ensure that the development dimension is fully taken account of in this respect.
Ministers also reviewed the support provided by the EU under the Accompanying Measures Support Programme (AMSP) and urged the EU to show flexibility in the disbursement of the allocations and to ensure that unutilised funds are promptly reallocated. They also resolved to seek the review of the AMSP in the form of an integrated Commodity Development Program.
Ministers emphasised the role that innovation and research and development can play in the promotion of value addition and diversification as well as the broader objective of increasing productivity and competitiveness of their sugar industries. Ministers considered ways and means of increasing the competitiveness of ACP sugar. In this regard they encouraged deeper collaboration and exchange of best practices among the Research Centres of the ACP regions, and renewed their request for a prolongation of the support to the ACP Sugar Research sector beyond the current 13 million Euros program in 2013.
Ministers expressed their deep appreciation and gratitude to the Government and people of Fiji for their warm and traditional hospitality.
Coral Coast
Yanuca Island
Sigatoka, Fiji
16th October 2013