EU To Help Fiji Sugar Industry Pending 2014 Elections

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Industry stakeholders, EU officials discuss sugar support

By Sheik Dean

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Sept. 12, 2013) – European Union (EU) has assured that they hope to provide full co-operation to the Fijian Government for our sugarcane sector following next year’s general elections.

The assurance came from the European Union head of delegation, Andrew Jacobs.

He said: "We have been providing assistance through non–governmental organisations since 2007 after the events of 2006 and we are looking at assisting the industry after the elections."

The comments came as Fijian sugarcane industry stakeholders and the European Union yesterday gathered at the Sugar House in Lautoka to get an insight of Fiji’s sugarcane industry.

Mr. Jacobs said the purpose of the meeting was to take stock of our sugar industry’s plans and challenges and how the support from EU can assist.

"We discussed the ambitions and objectives the industry has and how the EU can support," he said.

"Another major factor discussed was how the EU support in future can be targeted.

"We also had a good opportunity to talk about how the EU can step up our support for the sugar industry."

Positive outcomes

The Permanent Secretary for Sugar, Lieutenant-Colonel Manasa Vaniqi, said the meeting also saw the approval of the development of three cane access road as pilot projects.

"The three projects would be carried out in the Drasa sector, Malolo sector and in Lautoka and will be funded by the EU," he said.

"Those three roads will begin sometimes this year and we are glad that this meeting took place and it was long overdue."

Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi has previously questioned the impact of European Union aid given through non-government organisations.

Preferential Trade Agreements

In 2017 the Preferential Trade Agreements for sugar in EU will come to an end. Mr. Jacobs said the World Trade Organisations (WTO) deemed such preferential agreements as not keeping with International Trade Agreements.

This means that from 2017, Fijian sugar will have to compete in the world market as there will be no preferential prices paid.

"Sugar can compete on price and the Fiji Sugar Corporation with relevant authorities is striving to increase the yields," Mr. Jacobs said.

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