Caption: PM Bainimarama with world leaders and senior officials pose briefly following the opening ceremony of the 13th ACP Ministerial Conference on Sugar at the Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort. Photo: MINFO.
Ministers from sugar producing nations in the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group were today assured of the importance of their countries’ contribution to the European Union (EU) sugar market, with sugar imports from ACP states comprising 60 percent of total sugar imports into the EU.
European Commission Deputy Director General Development Cooperation, Marcus Cornaro made the comments whilst delivering the Keynote Address at the 13th ACP Ministerial Conference on Sugar at the Shangri La resort in Sigatoka today.
Ministers of Sugar from ACP countries are meeting in Fiji this week to discuss the future of preferential sugar arrangements in the context of the reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2013 and the implementation of the Accompanying Measures Support Programme, amongst other key topics.
“The political agreement on the CAP post-2013 concluded that the current system of sugar quotas and analogous provisions will end on 30 September, 2017 (and) that will mark the final stage in the reform of the sugar sector, decided in 2005,” Mr Cornaro said.
“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.
“There are still a lot of misconceptions about today’s CAP, especially on the dumping of agricultural products. Over the past years, CAP was reformed deeply to minimise its impact on world markets, especially developing countries. Successive reforms have profoundly changed the direction of CAP, putting an end to over production and encouraging greater market orientation.
“On the bi-lateral front, let me stress that the recent CAP reform did not include any changes to the existing trade regime. Signatories to European Partnership Agreements (EPA) and Least Developed Countries will continue to benefit from the most generous preferential access to the EU market, duty and quota free. The EU does not offer these favourable market access opportunities to other EU trade partners.”
Mr Cornaro went on to outline success stories recorded in some ACP and LDC countries where free market access granted under the Everything But Arms (EBA) and EPA initiatives had provided major stimulus to investment, including foreign investments, to expand and/or modernise sugar production.
Encouraging strong regional integration processes amongst different regional configurations to facilitate higher trade flows amongst neighbouring countries, Mr Cornaro said that UNCTAD figures still demonstrate that ACPs lag behind in agri trade, in comparison to Asian countries.
In 2012, the EU continued to be the top importer of products from developing countries, with 72 percent of imports from developing nations as opposed to 43 percent for Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan combined.
“We have largely supported the restructuring process of the sugar sector in former sugar protocol countries and are fully committed to support developing countries reduce poverty and achieve food and nutrition security and this is reflected in our internal and external policies,” Mr Cornaro said.
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