Select Committee on European Communities Second Report


Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Lord Donoughue, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

  The Sub-Committee considered the Commission's option paper on 21 July and agreed to lift the scrutiny reserve. In doing so the Sub-Committee asked me to write to you to pursue a point first raised by the Rt Hon Douglas Hogg, then Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in a letter to this Committee dated 7 October 1996[5].

  The letter explained why the then Government, while arguing for liberalisation of the CAP, nevertheless supported protectionist measures for bananas imported from ACP countries. It said that the Government supported the Lome commitments to the ACP countries, but was urging them to reform and restructure their industries to prepare them for the more liberal trading arrangements which were inevitable in the future.

  I would be grateful if you could say whether the present Government is similarly committed to reducing the dependence of some Caribbean countries on banana production, given that whatever option eventually chosen by the EU to reform the banana regime will reduce the scope for banana exports from ACP countries to the EU.

22 July 1999

Letter from the Rt Hon Joyce Quin MP, Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 22 July to Bernard Donoughue asking whether the Government is committed to reducing the dependence of Caribbean countries on banana production.

  I can assure you that the Government is fully committed both to restructuring the Caribbean banana industry so that it is more competitive and to reducing dependence on banana production.

  Banana industry restructuring programmes are underway in all the Caribbean producer countries and the UK is actively involved in the Windwards programme acting as a member of the donor advisory group. The main source of funding is currently the EU's STABEX. STABEX funds are disbursed through a Framework of Mutual Obligations (FMO) agreed between the EU and the recipient governments, which determines how the funds can be used. This includes direct aid for the banana industry to assist restructuring and increasingly general developmental support. For example, recent FMO allocations to St Vincent included funding for roads, health, education, community development and agricultural diversification. Specific allocations are also being made for social recovery plans for ex-banana growers.

  From 2000, it is expected that a new EU Special Framework of Assistance will form the main source of funding, targeted on the banana industry and economic diversification initiatives. The UK is playing a full and positive role in developing this initiative.

  In addition, through our bilateral aid programme, the UK will be supporting initiatives in the Caribbean which promote alternative sources of income and livelihoods. An Enterprise Adviser will shortly be joining the Department for International Development (DFID) office in Barbados and will be responsible for developing programmes to address a range of issues, such as the regulatory framework for the private sector, and entrepreneurial and business skill training. Although focused on general enterprise development, these initiatives will be of relevance to ex-banana growers who need to find alternative sources of income and employment.

  So far as the EU banana regime itself is concerned, our aim is that the changes made to it should:

    —  provide sufficient continuing support to allow the restructuring process to be completed in a measured way;

    —  reinforce the restructuring process by providing the incentive to reform; and

    —  provide the basis for a viable industry in the future.

  I hope this information is useful.

16 September 1999

5   Printed in Correspondence with Ministers, 5th Report, Session 1996-97, HL Paper 31, at pp 13-14. Back

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