Oxfam: EU sugar reform proposal 'a bitter blow'

Published: 22 November 2005

The EU has squandered the opportunity to revise its sugar reform proposals to help developing countries, said international agency Oxfam today. The latest reform proposal, presented today in Brussels, does not take into account the serious concerns of developing country sugar producers but panders instead to the needs of EU member states by offering an extra €2 billion in compensation for European companies.

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The EU has squandered the opportunity to revise its sugar reform proposals to help developing countries, said international agency Oxfam today. The latest reform proposal, presented today in Brussels, does not take into account the serious concerns of developing country sugar producers but panders instead to the needs of EU member states by offering an extra €2 billion in compensation for European companies.

 
“The Commission is still not listening to developing countries. It is bending over backwards for European industry but not giving a thought to the rest of the world,” said Luis Morago, Head of Oxfam International Brussels’ office. “This is a pathetic example to set 20 days before the WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong. In a year that was meant to be about ending poverty, the EU is demonstrating continued indifference to the needs of some of the poorest countries in the world.”

The proposals out today, due to be discussed in an EU Agricultural Council until Thursday, still offer no guarantee that dumping of sugar on the world  market will end or that poor countries will be able to adjust to the reform. The proposed price cut  (39%) remains unchanged and an extra two years of transition will not make enough of a difference to poor countries set to be affected by the reforms, said Oxfam.

European industry is being offered an extra €2,2 billion in compensation but offers to developing countries have not improved.

Morago: “There is very little here for developing countries. The extra transition period is window dressing compared to the hard cash on offer for European companies.”

The African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries (ACPs) have estimated annual losses of €500m as a result of the reform, but the EU is only offering them €40m in 2006 to adapt. There is no detail on what they will get in the future. Meanwhile, the world’s poorest countries (the LDCs) are being offered nothing despite the fact that the value of their exports to Europe will be significantly reduced as a result of the price cut.

In contrast, Europe’s farmers and industry are being offered €7,5 billion in total – a €2,2 billion increase from earlier proposals.

“Ministers meeting in Brussels over the next few days should reject this proposal in favour of one that responds to the needs of developing countries. They must offer a lower price cut and a decent package to help all poor countries adjust to the reform. Anything less would be a betrayal of their promises to help poor countries trade their way out of poverty,” said Morago.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact: Louis Belanger, Oxfam Press Officer on +32 4 73 562 260