8 Oct 2002

Europe prepared to back an efficient, subisdy free Fiji sugar industry

4:58 pm on 8 October 2002

The European Union says it is looking for opportunities to assist Fiji in its restructured sugar industry.

But the EU's Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Poul Neilson, says such help will only be given if the industry can re-establish itself in a sustainable way, once subsidies are removed.

The EU gives Fiji, along with other sugar producers within the ACP group of countries, preferential treatment, amounting to three times the market price for sugar.

However this arrangement is set to end within five years.

Mr Neilson says given the natural conditions Fiji should able to increase efficiency and competitiveness in all areas of the industry.

"We realise that there are big social consequences of this but the hardcore truth is that there is no solution to be found in hanging on to an illusion or an absence of change."

Poul Neilson.

He says they will continue to support Fiji with the EU Development Corporation, but hopes that the Supreme Court will soon rule on whether the Labour Party should be included in Cabinet.

He says if the government abides by this ruling it will give them access to some EU funding that has been withheld.