The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, has officially ended his year-long tenure as Chair of the International Sugar Council – the peak body for world sugar.

Commodore Bainimarama is being replaced by the current Deputy Chair of the ISC, Ambassador Derek Heavens of Jamaica, who received the PM’s congratulations at a ceremony in London.

In his handover speech, the Prime Minister thanked the International Sugar Council for entrusting Fiji with the Chair and said that it had been a great pleasure and privilege both for him and his Government to undertake the responsibility.

The change came at the end of the 44th Session of the ISC, which Fiji has been presiding over for the past week, and which included a major address by the Prime Minister last Monday.

In another development, the ISC has appointed a new Executive Director of the International Sugar Organisation, Dr Jose Orive of Guatemala. The Central American replaces Dr Peter Baron, who has served as ISO Executive Director for the past 20 years.

Commodore Bainimarama warmly welcomed Dr Orive and assured him of the Council’s full support. He also paid a fulsome tribute to Dr Baron, saying he had deeply appreciated his outstanding leadership of sugar’s peak body since 1992.

“During his term he has not only been directly involved in the expansion of the Organisation, with membership reaching an all time high of 87 member countries, but also contributed towards establishing it as the premiere institution for addressing key issues of concern to sugar producers, the Prime Minister said.

Commodore Bainimarama said that Fiji was especially grateful for the even-handed and balanced approach Dr Baron had taken in dealing with issues of particular interest to Small Island Developing States.

For his part, Dr Baron joined several other representatives – including Jamaica and Guatemala – in thanking the Fijian leader for what he described as his “excellent” Chairmanship of the ISC.

He said member countries especially appreciated the warm hospitality that Fiji had shown in hosting the 43rd session of the ISC in Nadi in June.