JIS News

Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have expressed disappointment at a recent decision taken by European Union Agriculture Ministers to reduce the price cut to ACP states for sugar exports to the EU by only three percentage points, from 39% to 36%. The CARICOM Heads made their position clear at a meeting with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on Saturday (Nov. 26), in the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting being held in Malta.
Caribbean Leaders noted that despite continuous submissions regarding the consequences of the drastic price cuts on the economies and societies of the region and the several assurances at various levels in the EU that these concerns would be addressed, the EU had failed to do so. Heads also noted their dissatisfaction with the short period of four years over which the preferential pricing mechanism would be phased out.
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson who has responsibility for External Negotiations within CARICOM, pointed out that the Sugar Protocol was a legally binding relationship of indefinite duration and was based on the premise that the countries of the region would be treated no less fairly than beet sugar producers in Europe.
Mr. Patterson said Caribbean countries were entitled to the same compensation as EU farmers and reiterated that the 40 Million Euro compensation package allocated to the entire ACP group for 2006 was grossly inadequate and compares unfavourably to the six billion euros provided for EU producers.
The changes to the Sugar Protocol is seen by CARICOM Leaders as a breach of faith that would worsen rather than alleviate poverty in countries of the region. It was further pointed out that the decision runs counter to the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement which stipulates that any review of the Protocol would be undertaken with a view to safeguard the benefits to be derived.
The Caribbean Leaders have requested that countries in the region that are engaged in sugar production including St. Kitts and Nevis, should receive adequate compensation that would enable them to improve their levels of efficiency in sugar production, as well as diversify their industries to make up for the economic loss.
The EU has also been urged to re-consider its decision and agree in consultation with the ACP, to adequate arrangements for ACP countries who have been reliable suppliers of sugar to Europe for more than a quarter of a century.

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