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Friday, 18 January 2013

ACP countries draw the line on EU sugar reforms

As the negotiations on yet another reform of the sugar policy of the European Union reach a critical point in Brussels, the Hon. Deputy Prime Minister of Swaziland met with the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş in Brussels on Monday 14 January, carrying a vital political message to the EU on behalf of all African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and Least Developed Countries whose economies and people are dependent on sugar exports to the EU market.
In order for the modernization and expansion programmes to bear fruit and contribute to the development of the ACP economies, “we need an additional period of five years” of stability in the European policy and market; after 2020, we will be looking to develop other sectors of our economy on the basis of a sustainable and successful sugar cane industry”, the message of Deputy Prime Minister’s to the EU says.
Highlighting the example of Swaziland, the Sugar Industry is of critical importance to Swaziland’s socio-economic development because it contributes about 18 percent to national output (GNP), employs over 35 percent of its agricultural workforce, and, like many other ACP countries, Swaziland is implementing EU part-funded expansion especially in the smallholder sugar cane production sector.  
The EU market absorbs over 300,000 tonnes of the sugar production of Swaziland (around half of the total production of Swaziland), generating more than 50% of total industry revenue and 58% by value of Swazi exports of all products abroad.  The encouraging developments to date in the expansion and modernization of the Swazi sugar industry, and indeed all ACP countries, are now threatened by the European Commission proposals to reform the EU sugar policy.
Since the reform of the sugar market regime, the EU has become a net importer of sugar. Imports are mainly in the form of cane sugar for refining, from the African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) and Least Developed Countries (LDC) which benefit from quota-free, duty-free access to the EU market.
For the ACP non-LDC countries a safeguard clause will remain in place until 2015.


Source: ACP