JIS News

Executive Chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA), Ambassador Derrick Heaven will be addressing the European Parliament on Wednesday (July 13), to give the response of African Caribbean and Pacific Countries (ACP) to the proposals to reform the EU’s sugar regime that will result in a 39 per cent cut in the price paid for sugar.
Speaking in London today (July 11), Ambassador Heaven said the EU Parliament requested this intervention from him as an “expert witness” on behalf of the ACP, out of a desire to look at the implications of the proposed reforms.
The European Union plans to cut the price of sugar from the ACP States by 39 per cent over two years from 2006-2008.
Ambassador Heaven also took the opportunity to update Jamaican community leaders and re-enlist their support in lobbying influential persons in the United Kingdom (UK), including Councillors and Members of Parliament on behalf of Jamaica.
The EU reform proposals go before the Council of Ministers in November for a final decision. Ambassador Heaven said Jamaica was seeking a modification of the proposal to the satisfaction of both sides, a modification of the size of price cuts and a longer period for the implementation. He said a 10-year period rather than the 4 years proposed would allow more time for the country to adjust.
He also said Jamaica and other ACP countries were very unhappy with the way in which the planned accompanying measures to the sugar reforms had been presented.
“There is no justification as to why an elaborate compensation plan has been put in place for the partners (sugar producers) in Europe but very little has been said about what is proposed for us (ACP countries). It has no indication as to funding and who is going to administer the programme. In the same way that the industry in Europe requires the information as to what is proposed, we do as well,” Ambassador Heaven said.
“Before now and November there is a lot that we can do and must do. We are not asking for hand outs, we are seeking to defend our rights. We have a treaty with the Europeans,” he added.
Although sugar contributes just under two per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), its impact is much more far reaching, as more than 40,000 persons are directly employed to the sector, while the jobs of as many as 250,000 others are indirectly impacted by the industry.