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Fiji received $56m of EU reform aid, ACP push for UK duty-free access

Fiji has received 23 million euros (FJ$56,973,543) from the European Commission out of the promised 44.4 million euros (FJ$109,983,710) to aid in the reform and long-term sustainability plans for the sugarcane industry.

According to the Fiji Sugar Corporation's 2017 Annual Report, the 44.4m euros was to aid in Fiji's reform and restructure programmes, allowing Fiji to become more sustainable and competitive in the international market.

“The last major reform of the EU sugar sector in 2006, the advent of the Economic Partnership Agreements in 2008 and the denunciation of the ACP-EU Sugar Protocol represented some of the major challenges that Fiji, along with other ACP small and vulnerable communities, had to grapple with," the FSC said in its report.

“On 1st October 2017, the EU will undergo further reform: quotas on beet sugar and isoglucose will be abolished, but external tariffs will remain unchanged.

“As a consequence, Fiji along with many of the ACP sugar industries has embarked on major reform and restructuring programs to ensure continued and long term sustainability of this vital industry.

“The European Commission has made available funds to support ACP countries adjust to the new market environment under the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol (AMSP) countries.”

The FSC said the EC had agreed to adopt proposals from the Sugar Ministry of Fiji to re-orientate some of the current projects to better address the immediate needs of the sugar sector.

Meanwhile, African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) sugar-producing countries including Fiji are hoping that the United Kingdom will continue to provide duty-free access for ACP sugar in to the UK.

The Marketing report of the Fiji Sugar Corporation's 2017 Annual Report said the UK remained a key destination for Fiji sugar.

The UK Government, in a press statement issued on June 24 this year, said it would use BREXIT to cement Britain's standing in the world and meet their commitments to the world's poorest by securing their existing duty-free access to UK markets and providing new opportunities to increase trade links.

However, the initiative only applies to Least Developed Countries (LDC).

LDCs are a list of the countries that, according to the United Nations, exhibit the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development, with the lowest Human Development Index ratings of all countries in the world.

In its 2017 annual report, the FSC said the ACP sugar group would like the UK to make provision to include ACP countries in allowing duty-free access into Britain.

These were ACP sugar-producing countries, like Fiji, that currently benefitted from duty-free access into the UK despite not being LDC countries.

The FSC said it hoped this could be done through economic partnership agreements.

A preferential quota access for locally-produced sugar, which Fiji has enjoyed since the mid-1970s, came to an end on October 1 this year.

Under the duty-free access, Fiji used to earn as much as three times the world sugar price by selling up to 220,000 tonnes of raw sugar to the European market.

Fiji now has to compete with all other sugar-producers for a share of the global raw sugar market.

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