FIJIAN PRIME MINISTER BAINIMARAMA STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF ACP & EU RELATIONS

FIJIAN PRIME MINISTER STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF ACP & EU RELATIONS

 

The African Caribbean and Pacific countries’ relationship with the European Union remains one of the highest priorities for this week’s 43rd Session of the International Sugar Council.
Chair of the ISO and Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama while welcoming sugar experts, industry leaders and various international government leaders said that as almost all of the ACP’s sugar exports are to the EU, the ACP – EU relationship is an issue of extreme urgency.

“Of great importance for all ACP sugar-exporting countries is the EU’s review of its Common Agricultural Policy, which includes the Common Market Organisation for Sugar,” PM Bainimarama said.

“The ACP sugar-exporting countries, including Fiji, are seeking a five-year extension of the EU-ACP quota system from 2015 to 2020.”

PM Bainimarama also pointed out that these additional five years will give ACP countries added security as they continue to restructure, modernise and diversify their sugar cane industries to meet today’s challenges and demands.

“For the Pacific ACP region, the issue of highest priority is the negotiation of a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU, which in terms of sugar, would allow for continued duty-free access to their marketplace,” PM Bainimarama said.

“The alternative is the EU’s interim EPA, which we regard as highly problematic. The EU has announced that Pacific countries that do not ratify this interim EPA by 2014 will lose duty-free access, including for sugar.”

“A comprehensive EPA is the goal, and the EU should not move the goalpost at this late a stage,” PM Bainimarama said.

“An EPA that addresses the contentious issues and aspires to the region’s development goals is the only answer.”

The Fijian Prime Minster has called on the EU to enter these negotiations with the Pacific with a sense of urgency that matches our own.