Fisheries, Sugar top ACP – EU talks
|01:05 am GMT+12, 02/05/2016, Senegal|
By Pita Ligaiula in Dakar, Senegal
The Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers has directed the ACP Secretariat to take steps to support member States in negotiating improved bilateral sustainable fisheries partnership agreements with the European Union (EU).
The council said issues regarding fisheries subsidies and special differential treatment are to be pursued in the post-Nairobi work programme of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The Council also urged that the ACP Secretariat continue to work with regional fisheries organisations or mechanisms, and to consider fisheries as a climate-sensitive area when programming the Intra-ACP funds of the 11th EDF.
“You cannot come to the European Union openly, carte blanche and condemn a situation if you have not looked at the measures being taken or also assist with the relevant technical skills or expertise to see,” ACP Secretary General, Patrick Gomes told the journalists in Dakar after the conclusion of the ACP Council of Ministers meeting last week.
The EU Commission said it has expanded the global fight against illegal fishing by warning three more countries in the Pacific, the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean.
Last month, the EU issued yellow card warning to Kiribati, Sierra Leone Trinidad and Tobago as they risk being uncooperative in the fight against illegal fishing.
For the Pacific, the warning to Kiribati is based on concerns about the country’s capacity to control fishing activities by foreign fleets. There are serious risks that illegally caught fish could be laundered through the ports of Kiribati, as they do not have robust traceability systems in place for fisheries products, according to the EU.
The EU said Kiribati’s unwillingness to share important information on third country vessels operating in their waters undermines the Commission’s work to improve transparency and sustainability of tuna resources in the Western and Central Pacific.
European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “Decisions are yet another sign of the EU’s determination to fight illegal fishing globally. As the fight against IUU fishing is part of the EU’s commitment towards sustainability and good ocean governance, each third country that comes on board is an asset,” said Vella in a statement.
Since November 2012, the Commission has been in formal dialogue with several third countries and have been warned of the need to take strong action to fight IUU fishing.
In 2013, formal dialogue is being held with Curacao, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Thailand, Taiwan and the Comoros.
Fiji, Belize, Papua New Guinea, Panama, Sri Lanka, Togo and Vanuatu have reformed their systems following a warning by the EU.
“Fisheries will become an important frontier where they will have common guidelines, noting for example that in this way, a fishing agreement with China, Taiwan or other countries would have to subscribe to certain provisions that would help the ACP fishing capacities and reduce depletion of resources or other adverse effect.
“So we are going to be giving very special attention to fisheries, our coastal societies, our coastal villages to both deal with deep sea fishing and more artisanal inland, coastal fishing,” said Gomes.
He said Ministers also discussed trading issues under various commodities – namely sugar, banana, Cotton and cashew nuts.
The ACP Council of Ministers also welcomed several developments in talks on sugar with the EU, including assurances that the EU safeguard mechanism will not be applied automatically, and that the EU will not impose any mandatory County of Origin Labelling (COOL) for sugar.
Ministers insisted that no intervention is made to increase the supply of sugar within the EU which could undermine the fragile recovery in sugar prices in some ACP member states.
“We would have a common understanding on that, which would help, therefore, sourcing from those counties that may have a high level of production in one year to satisfy the amounts that are needed in the market.
“So, along those lines, we are negotiating very strongly and looking at terms under which our products can go with more value addition to the European market, which is still a very useful market because it is a high priced market and we have to pursue as best we can in our negotiations,” said Gomes.
He also stressed the importance of ACP countries to have bargaining skills to improve their negotiations with the EU.
“And that’s why we have approved a programme now of 35 million Euros for what is called Trade Capacity Building in our countries.”
Gomes said this will have the possibility of moving trained personnel from country or region to another to help with their trade policy review.
The ACP Council of Ministers concluded in Dakar, Senegal last week.