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Wednesday, 02 June 2010

What future for ACP agricultural products in the new CAP?

On 25-28 May, Tradecom Facility organized an Expert Meeting on the trade of ACP agricultural products within the new European Union Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). During the meeting, Assistant Secretary-General of the ACP Group of States, Mr Achille Bassilekin III reminded participants of the key points that would facilitate the discussions, noting that, although the CAP is a mechanism intended to regulate internal EU policy, any changes to EU domestic agricultural policy will have an impact on trade and development in ACP countries. For example, in 2008, the EU represented 60 percent of total exports of agricultural and food products from ACP countries, and 29 percent of their imports of the same products. Agriculture is also a key sector in the economies of ACP countries in terms of GDP, employment and foreign exchange, and is therefore a powerful tool in food security and rural development. Consequently, the CAP should not be reformed to the detriment of ACP export interests on the EU market; more specifically, it is important to minimize the negative impact of the reform on key products for ACP economies (palm oil, tobacco, coconuts, copra oil, sugar, bananas, cut flowers, fruit and vegetables, cotton, rice and beef). Mr Bassilekin III further outlined the challenges facing ACP countries as a result of the CAP reform in 2013: the coherence between the CAP and EPAs; the results of multilateral negotiations and free exchange agreements between the Commission and third-party countries with new instruments to maintain access to income for ACP exports; the effects of climate change on exporters, in particular, carbon footprint labelling for agricultural products imported into Europe, and the accompanying measures imposed. Mr Bassilekin III encouraged participants to adopt a proactive approach in order to anticipate and evaluate the impact of various scenarios of CAP reform procedures, and attempt to influence the process to the benefit of ACP countries; to set up appropriate measures in close cooperation with the EU in order to minimize the negative impact of the reform on ACP economies; and finally, to define an adaptation strategy that would ensure a degree of autonomous development in agriculture, with the obvious aim of reducing our susceptibility to changes in the CAP and its influence on our agricultural exports.

Source: Speech by Mr Achille Bassilekin III, Assistant Secretary-General of the ACP Group of States