FIJI TO DEFEND SUGAR PRICES AT WTO HEARINGS

SUVA, Fiji (RNZI, Dec. 31) – The European Union will allow Fiji to join hearings at the World Trade Organization on Australia and Brazil’s challenge against the EU sugar regime.

Fiji live reports that the EU has also promised Fiji that it will receive financial help to get legal advice and for representation at the WTO proceedings.

It says Brazil and Australia want African, Caribbean and Pacific sugar producing countries to sell their produce at world market prices and not at prices set by the EU regime.

Currently, Fiji gets special quotas and sells its sugar in EU markets at almost three times the world market price.

Fiji’s sugar export earnings from sugar in the last five years was over US$465 million.

EU sources say the Australian-Brazil challenge seeks to erode the EU’s special price for its sugar imports from ACP countries and a reduction in preferential quotas.

Fiji’s Ambassador to the EU, Isikeli Mataitoga says Fiji’s economy and 200,000 jobs in the sugar industry are now at risk.

However, Jagannath Sami, the Sugar Cane Growers Council Chief Executive says WTO outcome would not affect Fiji drastically as price reductions would be slow, giving affected countries time to adjust.

December 31, 2002

For additional reports from Radio New Zealand International, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio New Zealand International.

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