THE ACP Sugar Group led by the deputy prime minister of Swaziland, Senator Themba Masuku, completed an important lobbying mission to the EU in Brussels on January 15.
A statement said the deputy prime minister was accompanied by the Bureau of the ACP Sugar Subcommittee comprising ambassadors from Guyana, Fiji, Mauritius, Swaziland, Ethiopia and Zambia.
Fiji's envoy to the European Union, ambassador Peceli Vocea represented Fiji at the meet.
The delegation met with the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolo, and with permanent representatives and ambassadors from Italy, Slovenia, Sweden, Latvia and Ireland.
Ireland holds the current presidency of the European Union.
As the negotiations on yet another reform of the sugar policy of the European Union reach a critical phase in Brussels, the ACP Sugar Group is carrying a vital political message to the EU on behalf of all ACP countries and Least Developed Countries (LDC)whose economies and people are dependent on sugar exports to the EU market.
The deputy prime minister's message echoed the ACP position on EU sugar reform, which also recognised that the operations of European Full Time Refiners represented an important market outlet for ACP raw sugar.
"The maintenance of those operations is of key importance to us," he noted, adding that "if necessary, measures should be considered to support this part of the market, but naturally, we cannot support any measures which could compromise the preferences afforded to ACP and LDC sugar producers".
The ACP Group has consistently pressed the EU to have an orderly and balanced sugar market which would offer the ACP suppliers a commercially attractive price and sustainable export earnings on a predictable long term basis to support our industry.