NEWS: EU sugar aid for Swaziland bittersweet
ACP, LDC countries draw the line on EU sugar reforms
Today, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland, the Hon. Senator Themba Masuku, met with the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Dacian Cioloş, and with permanent representatives and Ambassadors from the Republics of Italy and Slovenia and the Kingdom of Sweden.
As the negotiations on yet another reform of the sugar policy of the European Union reach a critical point in Brussels and Strasbourg, the Hon. Deputy Prime Minister is carrying a vital political message to the EU not only on behalf of the Kingdom of Swaziland but also on behalf of all African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and Least Developed Countries whose economies and people are dependent on sugar exports to the EU market.
The Deputy Prime Minister’s message to the EU is as simple as it is direct. In order for the modernization and expansion programmes to bear fruit and contribute to the development of the ACP economies, “we need an additional period of five years” of stability in the European policy and market. The DPM continued, “after 2020, we will be looking to develop other sectors of our economy on the basis of a sustainable and successful sugar cane industry”.
Highlighting the example of Swaziland, the Sugar Industry is of critical importance to Swaziland’s socio-economic development because it contributes about 18 percent to national output (GNP), employs over 35 percent of its agricultural workforce, and, like many other ACP countries, Swaziland is implementing EU part-funded expansion especially in the smallholder sugar cane production sector. The EU market absorbs over 300,000 tonnes of the sugar production of Swaziland (around half of the total production of Swaziland), generating more than 50% of total industry revenue and 58% by value of Swazi exports of all products abroad. The encouraging developments to date in the expansion and modernization of the Swazi sugar industry, and indeed all ACP countries, are now threatened by the European Commission proposals to reform the EU sugar policy.
The DPM’s message echoes the ACP position on EU sugar reform, which also recognizes that the operations of European Full Time Refiners represent an important market outlet for ACP raw sugar. “The maintenance of those operations is of key importance to us”, he noted, adding that, “if necessary, measures should be considered to support this part of the market, but naturally, we cannot support any measures which could compromise the preferences afforded to ACP and LDC sugar producers”.
Our “red line”, the DPM underscored, “is that ACP and LDC preferences must be maintained and crucially that Swaziland in common with all ACP and LDC countries must be able commercially to access the preferences enshrined in the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement and the Economic Partnership Agreements”.
For further information please contact Ms Josephine Latu-Sanft, Press Attachée at the ACP Secretariat, Brussels. Telephone: 02-743.06.17. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org . For requests for interviews, please contact Ms Philile Masuku, Embassy of the Kingdom of Swaziland, Telephone: 02-347.47.71, 02-347.57.25, 02-343.68.73 or 02-343.87.40. Email: email@example.com