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Market search goes to Abu Dhabi

Luke Rawalai
Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A TEAM will be dispatched to Abu Dhabi on April 28 in search of alternative sugar markets outside the EU.

This was revealed by Sugar director Viliame Gucake during his presentation to the Committee for Better Utilisation of Land (CBUL) meeting in Labasa yesterday.

Mr Gucake said the team would include officials from the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Sugar.

"Fiji's market to the EU will terminate in 2017 but there is an element to it before 2017, which is known as the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA)," he said.

"This is the same instrument under which Fiji sold its sugar to the EU after the expiry of the LOME convention on the 30th of September 2009.

"Since the 1st of October 2009, we have been selling our sugar to the EU under IEPA."

Mr Gucake said Fiji had signed the instrument but was yet to rectify it.

"We have been given until the 30th of September this year to rectify the instrument.

"The permanent secretary for the Ministry of Sugar (Lt-Col Manasa Vaniqi) has had a meeting with the permanent secretary for Industry and Trade and he has assured our permanent secretary that we will rectify before the 30th of September this year."

He said the Abu Dhabi visit was crucial as it would scout for alternative markets in the event that Fiji did not get a premium price for its sugar post-2017.

Mr Gucake also told the committee there were other emerging issues in the sugar industry, including the shortage of canecutters during crushing season, the need for replacement of old canegrowers who could not work on sugarcane farms anymore and other issues.

"The industry will sort these issues once it has rectified the issue of transportation shortage during crushing season."

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