The Board of Directors of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (Sac) held their 134th meeting in Georgetown on 27th April 2001.
They were meeting to discuss the coordination and implementation of strategies amongst the Caribbean sugar industries further to the Seventh Special ACP Ministerial Conference on Sugar, and other regular business.
The Directors noted with concern the outlook in the long term for the future of the European Union’s sugar regime of which ACP sugar is an integral part. On 4th October 2000, the European Commission proposed extending the EU sugar regime for two years whilst a majority – although not a sufficient majority – of EU agriculture ministers in the Council favour an extension for another five years t o 2006. The Directors expressed their support for the option supported by the majority of EU ministers and also the European Parliament and other EU institutions. On 24th April, the European Council failed to agree on a proposal to reform the EU sugar regime after it expires on 30th June 2001. SAC members are concerned this could create a legal vacuum with unpredictable consequences for Caribbean sugar producers.
The Directors are disturbed that the EU sugar regime is being undermined by increasing incursions of sugar from other third countries which enter the market via loopholes in bilateral free trade agreements negotiated between the EU with eastern European countries and others. The quantities involved are said to be over 200,000 tonnes per annum – and rising. Meanwhile, implementation of the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) initiative could initially transfer highly needed benefits from Caribbean and other small vulnerable ACP states to the least developed countries, whilst the EU would be completely unaffected and would suffer no cost as a result of the EBA initiative. Then, as from 2006 to 2008, the EU sugar regime could be seriously disrupted with further adverse consequences for Caribbean suppliers. The way in which the EBA initiative is structured means that the negative impact could be borne wholly by ACP sugar producers. The ACP/EU Sugar Protocol, of greatest importance for the Caribbean, will continue intact whilst the uncertainty affects Special Preferential Sugar (SPS) and the EU sugar regime.
The SAC members are strong in their view that EBA quantities of sugar allocated to the LDCs should be in addition to the current SPS quantities. SAC urges that the letter and the spirit of the Cotonou Agreement be honoured, in particular to safeguard the benefits derived from the Sugar Protocol and the Special Preferential Agreement.
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