10 Aug 2004

Fiji Sugar Corporation calls for talks with EU over sugar prices

3:37 pm on 10 August 2004

The chairman of the Fiji Sugar Corporation is calling on the government to hold talks immediately with the European Union over the ending of preferential prices.

Ross McDonald was speaking after the World Trade Organisation ruled that the EU had to stop paying developing African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, including Fiji, higher prices for sugar.

The preferential prices are three to four times higher than the world market.

Mr McDonald says if the ruling is implemented, it will have a devastating impact on Fiji.

"This decision is obviously going to cause chaos here in Fiji if it does go through because of the huge reduction in revenues that we will get for sugar. It's our third largest industry and some 20 to 25 percent of our population rely directly or indirectly on sugar for their livelihood and incomes. The impact on the Fiji economy is vast."

Mr McDonald says Fiji earns approximately 145 million U.S. dollars annually from sugar and this could be reduced by two-thirds as a result of the WTO ruling.

He says the industry does not yet know when this will be implemented or if the decision can be appealed.