23 Nov 2005

The EU begins more talks on sugar reforms which will impact on Fiji and other developing countries

2:34 pm on 23 November 2005

The European Union has begun marathon talks today on sugar sector reforms, with Britain seeking to moderate the pace at which guaranteed prices would be reduced.

The planned changes would directly affect a number of developing countries, including Fiji, which sell sugar into Europe at the same price that the EU pays its domestic sugar beet farmers.

The guaranteed price is to be cut from next year.

The EU's British presidency has proposed the changes be carried out more slowly than originally planned so EU sugar producers would have more time to adapt.

At the moment, the EU offers a guaranteed price for sugar that amounts to around three times the average world market price.

Britain's proposal would keep the proposed cut in the guaranteed price at 39 per cent but would give sugar-beet producers four years to adjust, rather than two years in the current plan.

Britain also wants to nearly double the money to help sugar producers adapt or close down.