Fiji fears force deal with EU to save sugar industry
Viability hangs on interim EPA
By Samisoni Pareti
Fears of the collapse of Fiji’s multi-million dollar sugar industry prompted its government late last month to opt for an Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) with the European Union.
Investigations by Islands Business magazine had shown that once Fiji’s sugar exports to the EU market are taxed, Fiji sugar will be deemed unviable which would probably lead to the collapse of the entire industry of 24,000 growers and their families as well as the hundreds more who work in the Fiji Sugar Corporation’s four sugar mills.
The ramifications of such an economic fallout will be disastrous, something the Fijian Government of Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama can ill afford on the eve of its September 17 general elections.
Our investigations show that Fiji’s sugar currently fetches around €400 Euro (AU$570) in the EU market. Once our current trade agreement under Lome lapses, Fiji’s sugar will automatically cop duty of €339 per tonne. This leaves Fiji with a mere €61 per tonne in revenue, rendering the entire sugar market unviable.