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Reduction of the price offered to Caribbean sugar producers: Disappointement at the European Commission’s proposal

The Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) has expressed grave disappointment at the recent proposal by the European Commission to drastically reduce the price it offers to the region’s sugar producers.

Calling the move insensitive, CPDC is now calling on regional leaders to seriously reconsider their decision to engage the EU in any negotiations for a new Economic Partnership Agreement.

Executive Coordinator of the CPDC, Christopher Sinckler maintained that though the decision was not entirely surprising, it is nevertheless extremely disappointing given recent assurances from the EU that any trade reform measures undertaken would not put the region in a worse position than it is now. More specifically, adds Sinckler, this proposal has potential to undermine a further commitment by the EU in the Cotonou Agreement to safeguard the benefits to be derived from the Sugar Protocol.

The CPDC maintained that if implemented, the proposal could mean an annual loss to the region of some US$90 million dollars in revenue, 150% more than current aid flow commitments from the EU to regional programmes.

In the face of these realities Mr. Sinckler is questioning how the region could possibly proceed in good faith with negotiations for the EPA, as it would seem to us in civil society that the Commission’s day time talk does not match its night time actions.

From the very beginning of the current process to institute new economic partnerships with ACP, the Commission was clear in pointing out that any efforts at trade liberalization should be based on enhancing development, promoting regional integration and reducing poverty in the respective region of the ACP.

However, noted Sinckler, even before the countries could get into the heart of the negotiations, they will have to deal with not only efforts to collapse the existing banana protocol regime, but now sugar. ‘How any of this will make Caribbean economies no worse off than they are now is a complete mystery to us.’

The Caribbean should not be made to negotiate new trading and economic relations with Europe unless the EU agrees to suspend any implementation of
adjustments to the pricing regime for the sugar protocol until after the EPA negotiations are complete.

16th July 2004

Caribbean Policy Development Centre