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  Government of the Republic of Fiji

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Media Release

Fiji EU Diplomat Addresses ACP Sugar Workshop

Fiji EU Diplomat Addresses ACP Sugar Workshop

23 November 2012: Counselor Nidhen Singh of the Fiji Mission to the European Union in Brussels has called on ACP Countries to seek ways to assist their members sugar industries. Speaking in his capacity as the Chairman of the ACP Sugar Group, Counselor Singh, addressed the Workshop underlining that it was very clear that in order to remain competitive and add value to this vital industry in light of various challenges, including price volatility and changing market conditions, the ACP sugar industries have to seriously look into all options to increase the revenue base of the sugar sector.

The Mid-Term Workshop on ACP Sugar Research and Innovation Programme was held in Mauritius from 1 to 4 October 2012. The Presentations showed a steady progress of the activities undertaken and, despite undue delays in the procurement of scientific equipment, the first results were being attained. Some results have already been presented by scientists in charge of the Programme during five important scientific international congresses. Conclusions of the Workshop highlighted the importance of the communication policy of the Sugar Research Programme, in sharing the results and innovations obtained, in promoting networking between the ACP Sugar producing countries within the scope of sugar research; in putting the emphasis on the proposals of the Programme for the capacity building (all the ACP countries technicians involved in the area of sugar cane are eligible for this activity). It was also agreed that the ACP Scientific Committee on Sugar should be re-activated to prepare a second ACP Sugar Research Programme, which could take place after 2014 and possibly be financed under the 11th EDF (Horizon 2020). Detailed outcomes of the workshop are now available on ACP-SRP website (www.acp-srp.eu).

Counselor Singh, in his capacity as the Chairman of the ACP Sugar Group, addressed the Workshop underlining that it was very clear that in order to remain competitive and add value to this vital industry in light of various challenges, including price volatility and changing market conditions, the ACP sugar industries have to seriously look into all options to increase the revenue base of the sugar sector. In addition to the traditional revenue streams from sugar, molasses and other known by-products, serious consideration have to be given to cogeneration, bio-fuels, bio-plastics and other viable uses of sugar.

The Workshop had provided a useful forum to exchange ideas in this regard. It was further noted that important parallel and the complementarities of Sugar Research Programme with Accompanying Measures Support Programme were underscored over the last two days. In this context, it was necessary to make a strong representation at the political and diplomatic levels to the EU against the phasing out of EU sugar and isoglucose quotas as early as 2015. This could have negative implications for our economies as can be evidenced by econometric studies undertaken independently and by the European Commission itself. A call was made for the ACP Sugar Scientific Committee to be given a fresh mandate to assess the requirements and identify projects to be considered under the second phase of the ACP Sugar Research Programme. The ACP Sugar Subcommittee had been mandated by the Ministers to pursue discussions with the European Commission on the possible extension of the Sugar Research and Innovation programme and the Group should accordingly provide the necessary justification for this following the Workshop.

(Caption: Counselor Nidhen Singh addressing the Workshop)