2 May 2007

Plea from Fiji for EU to think again about big cuts to sugar subsidies

3:20 pm on 2 May 2007

Fiji has urged the European Union to reconsider the level of price cuts it is imposing on sugar produced by the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries.

The EU has also been asked to extend the timeframe for the cuts to one that is more realistic and humanitarian in scope.

The Daily Post reports that the call has been made by Fiji's interim sugar minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, at the ACP ministerial conference on sugar currently under way in Nadi.

Mr Chaudhry says the EU's decision to cut sugar prices by a massive 36 percent in 3 years has delivered a devastating blow to ACP sugar producing countries.

He says ACP countries need adequate time to adjust to the pressures being exerted by the World Trade Organisation for the complete dismantling of subsidies.

Mr Chaudhry says ACP states are extremely vulnerable to external pressures and in Fiji's case the pressures have been worsened by the sharply rising price of oil.

He says it is grossly unfair to expect Fiji and other similarly placed ACP countries to compete with developed countries.

Mr Chaudhry says there is no level playing field but ACP states are subjected to expectations as if there were.

He says the people of the ACP cannot be driven by the globalization agenda of the WTO.

He says the big players must not be allowed to dictate to the ACP countries and set an agenda that is designed largely to promote their own vested interests.