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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

EU advises sugar producers to diversify markets

AFRICAN sugar producing countries which have been affected by reforms of European Union Sugar Protocol should target regional markets to sell their commodity. EU Head of Co-operation Mr Enrico Strampelli said in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday that the union was supporting African countries adapt to changes resulting from the Sugar Protocol which has been in place since 2006. "The key to the EU's 2006 Sugar Protocol reform was a 36 per cent in the guaranteed minimum sugar price for both EU and ACP producers. At that time, the European Commission committed to accompany the adaptation process of 18 ACP countries through the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol countries," Mr Strampelli told delegates from 11 African countries attending a meeting in Dar es Salaam. Mr Strampelli said the EU Sugar Protocol which was part of a Common Agriculture Policy has been reformed because it was not sustainable. The EC has allocated 1.24 billion euros to support African Caribbean and Pacific countries adapt to the changes since 2007 and will end in 2013. "A shift in emphasis towards domestic-led growth for job creation is needed. And I would add that regional markets are another avenue to reduce a one-sided export orientation," the EU official noted. He said commodity dependent countries should undertake diversification of both products and markets, while maintaining commodity production where a comparative advantage remains. "Precisely this has been the EU's policy orientation in the past years, a policy orientation that continues to be relevant, in sugar and in other commodities," Mr Strampelli pointed out. Addressing the meeting, Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives, Mr Mohammed Muya revisited the vital importance of EU Sugar Protocol to ACP countries and the effects of its expiry. Mr Muya pointed out that although the EC has been supporting ACP countries adapt to the reforms, the package of aid allocated has been considered to be small by many in the group of developing countries."Sugar Protocol as we know is no more, beneficiary countries have been granted assistance under accompanying measures to become more competitive, consolidate, diversify and retreat to regional markets," he noted. Mr Muya paid tribute to Brussels based ACP ambassadors for maintaining unity in the bloc and guarding interests of members.

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