September 28, 2007

ACPs call for ‘fair’ sugar price

Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states currently negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union (EU), issued a joint call for a “fair price” for their sugar exports to Europe.{{more}}

Their strongly worded, unanimously agreed statement, made in Brussels, covered the core issues for “an equitable and fair trading regime” under the new EPAs, negotiations for which are currently in the in the final stages.

At their Special Ministerial Consultation On Sugar, a counter-proposal to the EU’s “market access” offer was agreed to within the framework of a four-point submission that extends to safeguarding rum exports as well as refined sugar to Europe.

On the key issue of prices, the ACP group is strongly urging that the minimum price should not be less than the reference prices agreed upon by the EU council in its regulation. Demand commitment

They are also calling for “unequivocal commitment” by the European Commission that the agreed reference prices remain throughout the current regime to 2015.

With the pressure of a five percent reduction from 2006, the 17 Sugar Protocol signatory state ministers said the EU has a responsibility to sugar exporters as well as their own farmers and processors in Europe to maintain price stability.

According to one of the Caribbean’s Brussels-based ambassadors, “market access opportunities without fair and remunerative prices would make no economic sense”.

Instability of prices would also undermine the investment efforts for diversification and competitiveness being undertaken by ACP sugar industries with EU’s assistance under the “accompanying measures” scheme, said the ambassador.

Once a speedy and meaningful resolution of the measures to safeguard the Sugar Protocol benefits can be arrived at, the ministers said that the question of “denunciation” of the protocol would no longer be necessary.