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Ratify or lose benefit

Felix Chaudhary
Wednesday, March 05, 2014

THE EU will not extend the preferential quota regime which is set to expire on October 1, 2017.

However, Adam Janssen, the EU head of section political, trade, press and information, says countries signatory to the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) and those that fall under the Least Developed Countries category will continue to benefit from duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market.

He said Fiji could continue selling raw sugar to the EU as long as it ratified an interim EPA by October 1 this year.

"If Fiji does not ratify by that date the interim EPA it signed in 2007, then its sugar exports to the EU will no longer benefit from preferential access.

"In practice, this means that full duties will have to be paid on sugar exports, plus Fiji will have to compete with all other sugar producers," he said.

Mr Janssen said a report quoting Sugar Ministry permanent secretary Lieutenant Colonel Manasa Vaniqi as saying the EU would continue to buy Fiji sugar at a lucrative price — beyond the end of the preferential quota in 2017 — was not true.

"At this point in time, the EU is not aware of any commercial negotiations between EU private importers and FSC, but in any case such negotiations are kept private and confidential by the parties," he said.

The Fiji Sugar Corporation, the marketers for Fiji sugar, said discussions were still being held with the EU but nothing has been firmed up yet.

"Talks are going on behind the scenes but nothing is concrete as yet," said FSC executive chairman Abdul Khan.

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