New EU market access offer unacceptable - region’s sugar group

Stabroek News, Guyana

New EU market access offer unacceptable - region’s sugar group

30 May 2007

The Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) is calling for a substantial improvement in the current access of sugar to the European Union (EU) market.

The SAC wants this extended to sugar originating in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries that are not designated Least Developed Countries (non-LDC) and are signatories to the Sugar Protocol (SP). It deems the EU’s current Market Access offer as reducing its current access.

A release issued by the SAC following the 147th meeting of its Board of Directors on May 17 and 18 in Barbados said the EU Market Access offer made in early April "appears to be proposing to reduce market access for Sugar Protocol signatories by around 20% even before room may be made for non-Sugar Protocol non-LDC ACP states."

The SAC said the proposal to cap the quantities of future market access for non-LDC ACP countries at 1.3 million tonnes (white sugar equivalent) actually represents a substantial reduction in current access which is around 1.6 million tonnes.

Deeming this move unacceptable, the SAC said additional market access for sugar to third countries cannot be at the further expense of access for current SP signatories.

Recognising the importance of the EU offer to the Dominican Republic and others for new market access for sugar and the importance of duty-free quota-free access for LDC sugar, the SAC said this additional access could not be at the expense of current signatories to the Sugar Protocol; it must be on top of that.

The ACP, has to date, shouldered the burden of all the EU offers of additional market access to third countries.

The board concluded that the EU offer, as it stands, between CARIFORUM (Caricom countries plus the Dominican Republic) and the EU, "would not safeguard the benefits of the ACP-EU Sugar Protocol as required by the Cotonou Partnership Agree-ment and would in fact be a substantial backward step."

The board resolved that unless the benefits are at least maintained together with a remunerative price, the proposal is unacceptable to the sugar industries in the Caribbean.

The April 2007 EU market access offer extends substantial improvement of the LDC market access for the marketing year 2008/2009 through quantities additional to the quota foreseen under the Everything But Arms initiative; initial market access for ACP non-LDCs not parties to the Sugar Protocol; and additional market access for ACP non-LDC parties to the Sugar Protocol.

The EU market access outline, which proposes to remove all remaining quota and tariff limitations on access to the EU market for all ACP region goods, with the exception of South Africa, as part of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) negotiations, however, proposes a phase-in period for sugar and rice.

The press release also said that Dr Ian McDonald, the Chief Executive Officer of the SAC retired after 45 years of association with the SAC. The release said that a suitable presentation was made to thank him for all of his services.

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