Win some, lose some.

Author:Misser, Francois

It has been a mixed month for ACP countries. Cocoa producers and mining-based countries have been able to heave sighs of relief but the writing is on the wall for banana producers.

Much to the relief of ACP mining countries, the Lom[acute{e}] instrument, Sysmin, which had come under threat from the European Union's Green Paper on the future of the organisation, now seems to be safe.

Under the Sysmin system, EU funds are made available to ACP countries to help them maintain mining production levels. During slack periods, cash injections from Sysmin can mean the difference between survival and going under.

There has been strong opposition to the system from three European countries: Spain, Greece and Germany. Spain and Greece wanted the system scrapped because their own mines do not receive similar support and Germany, with no major interest in African mines, had thrown its weight behind the other two.

Fortunately for the ACP, the European Parliament came out strongly in support of Sysmin. In a report released in October, the European Parliament stated clearly that Sysmin should be both maintained and improved. Encouraged by this, the European Development Commissioner, Joao de Deus Pinheiro added it to a list of items to be discussed when the EU Council of Ministers sits down to ponder the shape of future relations with the ACP.

The ACP for its part wants the currently complex and lengthy administrative Sysmin system to be simplified. One result of this tortuous process, for example, is that so far only 21% of the ECU480m package earmarked for Sysmin for the 1990-95 period has been disbursed.

Another ACP demand is that countries such as Ethiopia, which don't benefit from this facility because they are not among the traditionally important producers, should receive help in developing mining in areas where there is potential. This will be a more difficult victory to achieve.

Cocoa producers win battle for pure chocolate

Cocoa producers were also relieved to hear that the European Parliament had voted to make substantial amendments to the European Commission directive allowing the use of 5% of vegetable fats in the making of chocolate in eight European countries.

Had the Commission's draft, inspired by the chocolate industry which wants to substitute cocoa butter with cheaper vegetable fats gone through unchallenged, it would have meant a minimum drop of 100,000 tonnes of cocoa in world demand and a 15% fall of world prices. This would have been...

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