3 May 2005

Fiji sugar industry feeling brunt of WTO decision to scrap protection measures

9:25 am on 3 May 2005

Fiji's sugar industry says it's feeling the brunt of the World Trade Organisation's decision to do away with preferential sugar prices.

Concerns for the negative economic and social impact of trade liberalisation have re-surfaced after last week's confirmation by the WTO that European subsidies for sugar production are to be phased out.

The chairman of Fiji's Sugar Corporation, Ross McDonald says small countries are being told to compete with larger developed economies, but the reality is it's just too difficult.

He says any industry facing 37 per cent price reductions has a problem on its hands...

"Here in Fiji, the industry supports some 200,000 people, like 25 per cent of our population. We have 40,000 people who get their direct income through the industry, so any reduction in price, and impact that has on the future of the industry are huge concerns."

Ross McDonald says the Sugar corporation is looking to upgrade their plants and machinery, in an order to produce a higher quality sugar and remain competitive.