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Fiji Hoping To Further Co-operation With EU

Fiji has joined the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in adopting a negotiation mandate that will set the agenda for further co-operation with the European Union. The mandate was
09 Jun 2018 10:00
Fiji Hoping To Further Co-operation With EU
Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya (middle) with other leaders during the 107th session of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers meeting last month in Togo, Africa. Photo: ACP Secretariat

Fiji has joined the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in adopting a negotiation mandate that will set the agenda for further co-operation with the European Union.

The mandate was adopted during the 107th session of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers meeting last month in Togo, Africa.

The Fijian delegation was led by Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya.

Mr Koya joined the ACP ministers in urging the EU to consider sugar as a “sensitive” commodity and to “safeguard the interests of ACP suppliers.”

The ACP Ministerial Consultations on Commodities was also held on the margins of meeting.

At the meeting, similar concerns were raised by Fiji’s head of mission to the EU, Ambassador Deo Saran.

Mr Saran said the recent decline in EU sugar prices was “worrying” for countries like Fiji.

He attributed the situation to the abolition of the EU sugar production quotas in 2017, saying it had been worsened by the Voluntary Coupled Support subsidy programme.

“Fiji, therefore, fully supports the call by the ACP for the EU to abolish Voluntary Coupled Support subsidy programme in the sugar sector and refrain from instituting other trade-distorting measures, and to engage with the ACP to look into ways of addressing the current situation which has led to many of the ACP suppliers under the EPA and EBA initiative to cease exports of sugar to the EU market so soon after the abolition of the EU sugar production quotas,” Mr Saran said.

According to the European Association of Sugar Manufacturers, February’s 372 EUR per tonne (FJ$900.55) is the lowest the price has fell since 2016.

Mr Saran said the decline could leave Fiji and other ACP countries displaced from their traditional market, as post-Brexit negotiations with the United Kingdom continue.

Mr Saran said that the United Kingdom was the largest market for the ACP, in terms of sugar.

He said Brexit offered a real opportunity to negotiate a meaningful preferential market for sugar which would be of lasting value and which would not only allow the U.K.’s beet growers and refining sector to prosper, but also help develop ACP sugar industries.

The European Development Fund is the primary EU aid provision for ACP countries. According to the EU commission, a budget EUR30.5 billion (FJ$73.87bn) is available for the regions until 2020.

The council also released a joint statement expressing its desire to remain committed to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Presently, the existing multilateral treaty between the EU and the ACP countries is called the Cotonou Agreement, which was adopted in 2000.

It was created with the hope of ending poverty, enhancing sustainable development, incorporating ACP countries into the global economy and improving the rule of law in those regions.

But the treaty will expire in February, 2020, with both sides hoping to continue co-operation beyond that date.    

So far, EU and the ACP countries have co-operated in several key areas such as improved governance, reducing the inequality gap, climate change and economic development.

The mandate is set to open negotiations for a post-Cotonou agreement, expected to begin in August this year.

The ACP representatives are made-up of 79 countries. They are viewed as countries with mutual development, economic and political interests.

Feedback:  sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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