ACP states fear ‘immense damage’ to sugar industries, call on EU to honour joint commitments


 
  In a letter to the current chair of the EU Council of Agriculture S. Coveney,   the chairman of the ACP Subcommittee on Sugar (ACP Sugar Group) Ambassador   P.I Gomes of Guyana reiterated the ACP Group’s strong concerns about the   upcoming CAP reform and its effects on small and vulnerable sugar exporting   ACP countries.
 
  A December 2012 report by the European Commission Services entitled   “Prospects for Agricultural Markets and Income in the EU 2012-2022” confirmed   the results of earlier studies that the expiry of sugar quotas in 2015 would   lead to a reduction of the domestic sugar price in the EU. This would make   imports, including preferential access, less attractive. Imports would fall   from 3.5 million tonnes in 2012 to 1.5 million tonnes in 2022. Moreover, the   report states that the EU would move to self-sufficiency and may even become   a net exporter from time to time.
 
  Gomes noted that the damage to ACP sugar industries and, more widely, to ACP   economies will be immense. With current ACP exports to the EU in the region   of 2.3 million tonnes, and considering competition from CXL imports and   increasing imports under free trade agreements, the inescapable conclusion is   that ACP sugar exports will drop to a negligible fraction of what they are   today, or be wiped out altogether of the EU market.
 
  Gomes said the conclusions of the Commission’s own report “represented a   serious disregard, on the part of the Commission, of the commitments made in   the Cotonou Partnership Agreement and EPAs in terms of maintenance of   preferential market access for the ACP. Of greater concern is the lack of   prior consultations on these major developments to assess the impact on ACP   countries promptly so that account may be taken of their concerns as to the   impact of these measures before any final decision is made, as provided for   in the agreements.”
 
  Gomes strongly underlined that “were the EU, now aware of the Commission   study, to abolish EU sugar quotas before 2020 it would seriously undermine   and call into question the coherence of EU policies and, inevitably, the very   basis of our long longstanding partnership and the fundamental interests that   bind us will be considerably weakened.”
 
  However, the ACP – along with EU sugar processors and growers — supports the   European Parliament’s request for the continuation of the beet sugar quota   provisions until 30 September 2020. This gives the much needed time to   jointly and properly discuss future changes, pursuant to consultations   provided for in the Economic Partnership Agreements and Cotonou and to   implement measures to improve the competitiveness of our industries.
 
  Gomes noted that the United States is currently examining its farm bill with   the intention to roll over the sugar programme with quota based imports   covering 15% of the country’s needs. This essentially guarantees continued   market access to the United States from developing and least developed   countries.

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