Prime Minister writes to PM Blair Opposing new EC thinking on Sugar


Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has written to Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair asking him to encourage a solution to the latest European Commission thinking on the EU regime for sugar which ACP countries have learnt about through the media, leaked documents and consultants’ studies.
The new thinking would see European Commission introducing a regulation on June 22 that will propose a once and for all 39% price cut over the two years to 2008/9. This would be a departure from the two-phased approach that was originally proposed.
“In July 2004, the European Commission published a Communication setting out its thinking on a new EU regime for sugar. By extension this suggested that ACP sugar producers would experience a 33% price cut over a three-year period up to 2007/8. It also proposed a further review in the light of the outcome of the Doha Development Round and the EC’s appeal against the WTO challenge brought by Brazil, Australia and Thailand against aspects of its sugar regime”, according to Mr. Patterson’s letter.
Prime Minister Patterson noted that the impact of the 39% per cent cut on a proposed ‘action plan’ that would have addressed the issues of transitional support for ACP sugar producers was not discussed with the Government of Jamaica or the sugar industry.
Calling the new thinking “unrealistic”, Mr. Patterson pointed out that the sugar industry could not withstand the price cut over two years starting in 2006. He argued that without a support mechanism similar to that being offered to wealthy EU farmers, the local sugar industry would collapse before it had a chance to adapt. “An adequate, properly funded preparatory period is vital if we are to successfully restructure, re-skill and develop newer industries”, the letter said.
His letter made it clear that he expected the United Kingdom to fight for a ‘reasonable transition period’ for Jamaica.
The Prime Minister also wrote to President Jacques Chirac of France, Dr. Gerhard Schroder, Chancellor of Federal Republic of Germany, Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the EC and Mrs. Glenys Kinnock MEP, Co Chair EU/ACP Joint Assembly, European Parliament.
Prime Minister Patterson’s letter to Mr. Blair came hours before the two were scheduled to meet for talks today (June 10,2005) in London.

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