JIS News

The Jamaican Diaspora will be maintaining its lobby efforts against the European Union’s proposed 37 per cent price cut on sugar from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
Executive Chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA), Ambassador Derick Heaven, told JIS News that, “a lot of the Jamaicans are now writing letters to their MPs (Members of Parliament) and those letters have produced significant results already.”
While he could not state the exact number of people involved in the campaign, the Ambassador said that based on feedback he had received from British MPs and ministers, the number is “quite significant.”
The lobbying efforts, the Ambassador noted, were “in full force,” and is being done at different levels and were targeted at the European Agricultural Commission, the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and other interest groups.
Ambassador Heaven said that activity in Britain was particularly intense, because like Denmark and Malta, Britain was one of the countries that was advocating for immediate change to be effected to the sugar prices of ACP countries.
“If we remain silent until it [the proposal] becomes legislative, then that will be too late, so we have to make our inputs at every step of the way,” he pointed out.
The lobbyists, he stated, have so far been every effective, as apart from causing a delay in the implementation of the price cuts, their efforts have helped to increase dialogue about the issue among stakeholders in Europe and to the EU engaging the ACP in “an action plan” which is being developed to meet the needs of states with respect to the consequences that may arise in the event of any price changes. In addition, Jamaica was given the opportunity to voice its concerns on the proposal at a sitting of the Joint Session of the Agricultural Trade and Development Commission in the European Parliament in November 2004.
Notwithstanding the gains, Ambassador Heaven said that petitions would still continue. “We feel quite justified in [lobbying],” the Ambassador stressed, “because the way in which they [EU] have gone about amending and changing the arrangement is improper, and we feel that as a partner, we are entitled to some dialogue and consultation about the change.”
“One of the things that we’re going to have to face is that the regime will have to be changed. My concern and my firm belief is that whatever change is necessary can be done in a manner that is not disruptive,” Ambassador Heaven emphasized.
With respect to taking legal action against the EU, he said that even though this was an option that the ACP states could take, they would not use this approach at this time.
“The problem with pursuing our objections purely on legal grounds is that quite possibly, ten years later, when the first hearing is heard.the proposals on the table would be implemented, and so we are pursuing a parallel approach of seeking to ensure that our legal rights are protected while at the same time dealing with what is on the table,” he explained.

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