Caribbean Diaspora May Be Tapped As ‘Soldiers’ In Sugar Battle

Hardbeatnews, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thurs. June 30, 2005: Mobilizing the Caribbean Diaspora to pressure governments in favor of the European Union Sugar Reform Proposals to change their position, is one of the tactic Africa, Caribbean & Pacific countries hope to use to fight the plan.

That’s according to Guyana Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation and the Ministerial Spokesperson on sugar for CARICOM, Clement Rohee.

Rohee, who just returned from attending the ACP Group of States Ministerial Consultation on Sugar in Belgium, told GINA, that the decision was made to involve the Diaspora as well as to forward resolutions to the EU Council of Ministers and hold meetings with the Commissioners responsible for Development Cooperation, Agriculture, Trade and budgetary matters, to fight the plan.

Rohee declared that Guyana and other ACP states cannot afford to roll over and allow the EU to have its way, but must keep on fighting.

“On the political front we will continue to exert as much political pressure to make countries understand the political, economic and social implications the EU challenge has for us,” Minister Rohee was quoted as saying. “Simultaneously, we have to begin developing our strategic plans, how to take advantage of the accompanying measures proposed by the EU for assistance.”

The EU has proposed 40 million Euros to the ACP to assist with the transition, but Rohee said, “We reject this amount and have indicated the need for 500M Euros during the transition period to assist us along the way.”

The minister, added that in a battle such as this, many friends are needed. “We will continue working with Non Governmental Organisations such as Oxfam and World Wild Life Fund because in a struggle of this type you need as many friends and allies as possible and in our view NGOs could prove to be very critical and strategic. We still have a far way to go, these are just proposals made by the Commission, which now has to go out and convince member states of the EU about the efficacy of these proposals, and that is where the real fight will take place.”

He is also of the firm opinion that Guyana and other stakeholders should not close any window of opportunity that gives the possibility to advance their interest.

Guyana, a major sugar producer in Caricom, stand to lose most from the EU plan, that threatens to reduce the price paid for sugar by 39 percent over three years. That’s from $764.1 per metric ton to $466.1 by 2009.

The issue is also set to dominate the Caricom heads of government summit that opens in St. Lucia on July 3. –