6 Dec 2007

Fiji and EU reach agreement on removal of sugar preferences in interim partnership agreement

2:45 pm on 6 December 2007

Fiji will liberalise its sugar industry completely by 2015, according to an interim trade deal with the European Union.

The information has emerged from the team in Brussels which negotiated Economic Partnership Agreements on trade in goods with Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

The deals were initialled last week in Brussels to replace the trading section of the Cotonou Agreement, under which Europe gave preferential market access to former colonies in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific.

The deputy head of the unit negotiating the new Economic Partnership Agreements, Martin Dihm says there will be gradual changes to the quota system under which the EU receives sugar from Fiji.

Mr Dihm says a transition period had been agreed until the end of 2009, with the full liberalisation of trade in sugar by 2015.

Fiji's sugar industry has long been a backbone of the economy, but it is inefficient and antiquated, and struggles to compete on the open market.