Examples of potential environmental regulation on international trade:
Fiji: Case of sugar industry (green bans).
The region cannot afford to be complacent with respect of international 'green' bans, which could damage certain exports of national significance. Such products might include native timbers (PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji); sugar (Fiji); and squash (Tonga) ginger and sugar. A ban on Pacific island hardwoods has already been proposed by Australia and New Zealand environmental groups because of the perceived exploitation of landowners, poor logging practices and unsustainable nature of the industry in PNG and the Solomon Islands. The appropriate strategy for the PIC timber industries is to convert this adverse international attention to a competitive advantage. Establishing a verifiable reputation that adopts environmentally sustain-able practices would do this.
The Fiji sugar industry, for which the EU is the major market, is currently at risk. The industry already faces the prospects of lower market prices, as the EU adjusts to the requirements of the WTO with respect to agricultural protection and trade preferences. Superimposed on this is the pressure that could be brought to bear on the EU by the sophisticated European environmental lobby to reduce preferences for Fiji's sugar. Their objective would be to force marginal cane lands, where unsustainable agricultural practices are commonplace, out of production. The EU would be in an increasingly untenable position if it had to justify subsidies of any sort which were encouraging unsustainable agriculture, especially in the absence of any obvious at-tempts at control by the host country. To counter this prospect the re-introduction of the vetiver grass bunding programme, that was so successful in the past, needs to be given serious consideration.
For sugar, as with timber, environmental concerns could be turned to marketing advantage. A significant market now exists for certified organically grown and processed sugar, which receives considerable price premiums over conventional sugar. Organic products are those grown in a sustainable manner without artificial chemicals. To be marketed these products need to be certified by an approved body. Fiji's low input small holder sugar cane production systems would be amenable to conversion to organic production systems.
(reference: Synthesis paper on institutional arrangements and mechanisms in Pacific islands, 1999, unpublished, para 418-20, pp. 119)
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