A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development

Vi Digital Library - Text Preview

Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global Trade Regime

Report by Mather, Charles/ICTSD, 2008

Download original document (English)

In the last decade, the commodity issues have re-emerged as central to development initiatives and poverty alleviation strategies. The objective of this Issue Paper by Charles Mather is to contribute to this debate by providing an analysis of the value chains of four tropical commodities (bananas, sugar, cut flowers and palm oil) in a rapidly changing global trade environment. The author seeks to provide insights on the different ways the significant changes occurring in the structure and governance of commodity chains ultimately affect producers’ income and production sustainability. He also suggests recommendations to improve these two variables. The value chain approach has become an increasingly important framework for examining changes in the global trade of commodities and their implications for primary producers. Rather than describing the broad patterns of global exchange and assessing their consequences for producers and consumers exclusively through market mechanisms and equilibrium price changes, the global value chain (GVC) framework encompasses the production, processing, distribution and marketing of specific globally-traded commodities, and identifies the main stakeholders involved at each stage. It also highlights governance patterns (how these different stages are coordinated) and specifies the role of lead firms in determining market access, defining products and value across the chain (Schmitz, 2005). The commodity studies in this paper focus on four themes: changes in the geography of production, changes in chain governance, new developments in trade agreements and their impacts on primary producers in different developing countries, and initiatives towards sustainable production, ethical trade and worker welfare. With regard to changes in production, the paper provides insights into new developments in the production of bananas, sugar, palm oil and cut flowers, which have been driven by changes in trade agreements and new investment patterns. In several of the commodities concerned, an important development has been the rise of new low cost producers who will play a role in shaping the global market for these commodities. This paper was produced under an ICTSD dialogue and research project which seeks to address the opportunities and challenges of the full liberalisation of trade in tropical and diversification products, and explores possible areas of convergence between different groupings and interests in WTO negotiations. The project seeks to generate solutions-oriented analyses and possible policy responses from a sustainable development perspective.

Issue Paper No. 13


ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable DevelopmentMay 2008


Value Chains and Tropical
Products in a Changing
Global Trade Regime


ICTSD Project on Tropical Products


By Charles Mather
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa




May 2008 l ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


Value Chains and Tropical
Products in a Changing
Global Trade Regime


By Charles Mather
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


Issue Paper No. 13




ii Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


Published by


International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)
International Environment House 2
7 chemin de Balexert, 1219 Geneva, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 917 8492 Fax: +41 22 917 8093
E-mail: ictsd@ictsd.ch Internet: www.ictsd.org


Chief Executive: Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz
Programmes Director: Christophe Bellmann
Programme Officer: Marie Chamay


Acknowledgements:


ICTSD is grateful for the generous support of the Department for International Development (DFID) of the
United Kingdom, the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation (DGIS), Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of the Netherlands and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.


ICTSD would like to thank Peter Gibbon, Riyad Insanally, Tancrède Voituriez and Peter Zuurbier
for providing critical input into the production of this issue paper. Thank you also to support of
colleagues, including Christophe Bellmann, Caitlin Zaino and Tamara Asamoah at ICTSD, and Stephanie
Mansourian-Stephenson.


For more information about ICTSD’s programme on agriculture, visit www.agtradepolicy.org.


ICTSD welcomes feedback and comments on this document. These can be forwarded to Marie Chamay,
mchamay@ictsd.ch.


Citation: Mather, C. (2008). Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global Trade Regime. ICTSD
Project on Tropical Products, Issue Paper no.13, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development,
Geneva, Switzerland.


Copyright © ICTSD, 2008. Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational
non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged.


The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of
ICTSD or the funding institutions.


ISSN 1817 3551




iiiICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES v
LIST OF FIGURES v
ACRONYMS vi
FOREWORD 1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3
1. INTRODUCTION 5


1.1. References 7
2. ACP BANANA EXPORTS AND TRADE PREFERENCE EROSION 8


2.1. Introduction 8
2.2. Global Trade, Production and Prices 8
2.3. The Global Value Chain for Bananas 11
2.4. EU Banana Trade Regime 14
2.5. Impact on Banana Exporting Countries 15
2.6. EU Policy Response in the Banana Sector: Assessment and


Options for Future Support 19
2.7. Recommendations 20
2.8. Conclusion 21
2.9. References 22


3. EU SUGAR REFORM, ACP SUGAR EXPORTERS AND
THEEU’SACTIONPLAN 24


3.1 Introduction 24
3.2 Global Production, Trade and Prices 25
3.3. The Global Value Chain for Sugar 26
3.4. EuropeanUnion’sCommonMarketOrganisationforSugar 28


3.5. ReformingtheEU’sCommonMarketforSugar 31


3.6. Impact of the Reform on ACP Countries 32
3.7. EU Support for Preference Erosion in Sugar 35
3.8. Recommendations 37
3.9. Conclusion 38
3.10. References 38




4. VALUE CHAINS AND CODES OF CONDUCT IN THE CUT
FLOWER VALUE CHAIN 41


4.1. Introduction 41
4.2. Global Production, Trade and Consumption 41
4.3. The Global Value Chain For Cut Flowers 44
4.4. Tariffs 49


4.5. Non-TariffBarriersandCodesofConduct 50


4.6. CodesandCutFlowerFarmWorkers 51


4.7. Recommendations 54
4.8. Conclusion 55
4.9. References 55


5. SUSTAINABILITY, VALUE CHAINS AND MULTI-STAKEHOLDER
APPROACHES IN THE PALM OIL SECTOR 57


5.1. Introduction 57
5.2. Global Production, Trade and Consumption 58
5.3. The Global Value Chain for Palm Oil 61
5.4. Towards Sustainable Palm Oil Production: Company Codes


andMulti-stakeholderGroups 65


5.5.Multi-stakeholderGroups,ValueChainsandSustainableProduction 68


5.6. Recommendations 69
5.7. Conclusion 70
5.8. References 70


6. CONCLUSION 73
ENDNOTES 75


iv Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime




LIST OF TABLES
Table 2.1: Banana Export Unit Values (USD per tonne) 16
Table2.2: BananaExports1990-2005(‘000tonnes) 17


Table3.1: TradePreferenceQuotasfortheEUMarket(tonnes) 30


Table 3.2: Changes in Price for ACP Sugar 31
Table 3.3: ACP Special Preferential Sugar Arrangement (SPS) Access (tonnes) 32
Table 3.4: Competitiveness of ACP Sugar Exporters 34
Table 3.5: Projected EU Sugar Prices and ACP Sugar Production Costs 34
Table3.6: ECSupportforACPCountriesAffectedbyTradePreferenceErosion 36


Table 4.1: Cut Flower Imports 2004 42
Table 4.2: Cut Flower Exporters (including ACP countries) 42
Table 4.3: Cut Flower Sales in Germany (%) 47
Table 4.4: Cut Flower Sales in the United Kingdom (%) 47
Table5.1: PalmOilProduction(‘000tonnes) 58


Table5.2: PalmOilExports(‘000tonnes) 59


Table5.3: PalmOilImports(‘000tonnes) 60


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 2.1: Banana Exports 2005 9
Figure 2.2: Banana Export Chain 11
Figure 3.1: World Sugar Exports in 2005 25
Figure 3.2: Sugar Production Chain 27
Figure 4.1: Cut Flower Exports and Imports 43
Figure 4.2: Cut Flower Chain 46
Figure 5.1: Palm Oil Exports 59
Figure 5.2: Palm Oil Chain 61


vICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development




LIST OF ACRONYMS
ABF Associated British Foods
ACP African,CaribbeanandPacific
ADM Archer Daniels Midland Company
AGOA Africa Growth and Opportunity Act
ATPA Andean Trade Preferences Act
BACP Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Programme
CBI Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries
CDDC commodity dependent developing country
CMO CommonMarketOrganisation
CPO crude palm oil
CSR corporate social responsibility
DFC Dubai Flower Centre
EBA “Everything But Arms”
EC European Commission
EPA Economic Partnership Agreements
ETI Ethical Trading Initiative
EU European Union
FELDA Federal Land Development Authority (Malaysia)
FFBs fresh fruit bunches
GAP Good Agricultural Practices (as in EurepGAP, GlobalGAP)
GATT GeneralAgreementonTariffsandTrade
GSP Generalised System of Preferences (EU)
GVC global value chain
HEBI Horticultural Ethical Business Initiative (Kenya)
ICC International Code of Conduct
ILO International Labour Organization
IMF International Monetary Fund
ISO International Standards Organization
LDC least developed country
MPS Milieu Programma Sierteelt (environmental standard)
NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement
NERA NERA Economic Consulting
NGO non-governmental organisation
OPM Oxford Policy Management
RBDPO RefinedBleachedDeodorisedPalmOil
RSPO Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil
SFA SpecialFrameworkforAssistance
SME small and medium-sized enterprises
SPS Special Preferential Sugar
SSA Special System of Assistance
TRIPS Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
UPOV Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties
WTO World Trade Organization


vi Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime




1ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


FOREWORD


The importance of agricultural commodities for developing countries, including tropical products,
is undeniable. Their significance has been recognised in an array of studies, fora and organisations.
As indicated in the Global Initiative on Commodities Report (UNCTAD et al, 2007), as many as
38 developing countries are estimated to be dependent on a single commodity for more than
50 percent of their export income, with an additional 48 countries depending on only two. These
countries depend on commodities as a source of livelihood, employment, foreign exchange and
public revenue; the commodity sector is their principal stimulus for economic growth.


There are no studies estimating the importance of tropical and other commodities using economic,
social and foreign trade indicators. Nonetheless, the participation of such products in exports from
developing countries is significant: the twenty main tropical products account for 36 percent of
developing countries’ incoming foreign currency from agricultural exports. This proportion reaches
46 percent for low income developing countries (Perry, 2008). Many of these products are grown
primarily by small farmers in developing countries – as in the case of coffee, cocoa, tobacco
and cotton. Others (i.e. sugar, rubber and rice) are vital in the generation of rural employment.
Therefore, besides their considerable contribution to foreign currency generation, they also play an
important role from a social point of view.


The built-in agenda of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture reflects the
longstanding priority attached to tropical and diversification products, that “having agreed that in
implementing their commitments on market access, developed country Members would take fully
into account the particular needs and conditions of developing country Members by providing for
a greater improvement of opportunities and terms of access for agricultural products of particular
interest to these Members, including the fullest liberalisation of trade in tropical agricultural
products […].” The 2004 Framework Agreement reached during the Doha Round notes that the
full implementation of the liberalisation of trade in tropical agricultural products is “overdue
and will be addressed effectively in the market access negotiations.” However, the way in which
the commitment is to be implemented and even the identification of such products remain far
from clear.


In the last decade, the commodity issues have re-emerged as central to development initiatives and
poverty alleviation strategies. The objective of this Issue Paper by Charles Mather is to contribute
to this debate by providing an analysis of the value chains of four tropical commodities (bananas,
sugar, cut flowers and palm oil) in a rapidly changing global trade environment. The author seeks
to provide insights on the different ways the significant changes occurring in the structure and
governance of commodity chains ultimately affect producers’ income and production sustainability.
He also suggests recommendations to improve these two variables.


The value chain approach has become an increasingly important framework for examining changes
in the global trade of commodities and their implications for primary producers. Rather than
describing the broad patterns of global exchange and assessing their consequences for producers
and consumers exclusively through market mechanisms and equilibrium price changes, the global
value chain (GVC) framework encompasses the production, processing, distribution and marketing of
specific globally-traded commodities, and identifies the main stakeholders involved at each stage.
It also highlights governance patterns (how these different stages are coordinated) and specifies
the role of lead firms in determining market access, defining products and value across the chain
(Schmitz, 2005).




2 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


The commodity studies in this paper focus on four themes: changes in the geography of production,
changes in chain governance, new developments in trade agreements and their impacts on primary
producers in different developing countries, and initiatives towards sustainable production, ethical
trade and worker welfare. With regard to changes in production, the paper provides insights into
new developments in the production of bananas, sugar, palm oil and cut flowers, which have been
driven by changes in trade agreements and new investment patterns. In several of the commodities
concerned, an important development has been the rise of new low cost producers who will play a
role in shaping the global market for these commodities.


This paper was produced under an ICTSD dialogue and research project which seeks to address
the opportunities and challenges of the full liberalisation of trade in tropical and diversification
products, and explores possible areas of convergence between different groupings and interests in
WTO negotiations. The project seeks to generate solutions-oriented analyses and possible policy
responses from a sustainable development perspective.


Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz
Chief Executive, ICTSD


REFERENCES


Perry, S. (2008). Tropical and Diversification Products: Strategic Options for Developing Countries.
ICTSD Project on Tropical Products. Issue Paper No.11. International Centre for Trade and Sustainable
Development. Geneva. Switzerland.


Schmitz, H. (2005). Value Chain Analysis for Policy-Makers and Practitioners. International Labour
Organization. Geneva. Switzerland.


UNCTAD, ACP, CFC, and UNDP (2007). Global Initiative on Commodities Report. Brasilia, 7-11 May
2007. United Nations. New York, United States and Geneva, Switzerland.





3ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


This report addresses the issue of commodity trade and its impact on developing country producers.
In the last decade the “commodity issue” has re-emerged as a key problem for developing country
producers and has become a significant topic of debate within governments and multilateral
institutions. A solution to the commodity crisis is now seen as central to development initiatives
and poverty alleviation strategies.


The aim of the report is to provide input into these debates through a value chain analysis of
four tropical commodities (bananas, sugar, cut flowers and palm oil). The value chain framework
is used to reveal changes in the structure and geography of production for the four commodities
and changes in their governance. The restructuring of production and the reconfiguration of the
commodity chains is occurring in a context of significant new developments in trade regulations. A
parallel development is the emergence of a range of new market initiatives associated with niche
markets including fair trade and organically produced food and fibre products.


The chapter on the banana chain examines the impact of the changing EU banana regime on ACP
(African, Caribbean and Pacific) banana exporters. The reform of the trade regime over the last
15 years has led to increased competition in the EU market and lower prices, which have had a
devastating impact on higher cost ACP banana exporters. In contrast, banana exporters from the ACP
region with lower costs, have increased their exports to the EU market. A parallel development in the
banana value chain has been the growing power of supermarkets associated with the concentration
of retail sales in most EU countries. The banana chain may now be described as “buyer-driven”
with important implications for the large trans-national banana exporters and also for producers
interested in exploring market niches for bananas.


A key theme addressed in this chapter is the EU’s support programme for banana producers. Support
for banana producers affected by trade preference erosion started in the mid-1990s, shortly after
the introduction of a single market for bananas in the EU. This assistance was initially focused on
improving the competitiveness of all producers, but since then the emphasis has shifted towards
helping uncompetitive banana producers to diversify out of banana production. While the support
has improved the competitiveness of some banana exporters, the chapter argues that its support for
diversification efforts is tentative and inconclusive. The programme also failed to support farmers
in exploiting niche markets, despite its mandate to do so. In the short time that is left under its
assistance programme, the EU should direct its support towards assisting banana exporters in their
efforts to supply fair trade banana markets.


The chapter on the sugar chain focuses on the impact of the reform of the EU’s Common Market
Organisation (CMO) on African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) sugar exporters. For ACP sugar
exporting countries, the key issue is the future price of sugar in relation to production costs. Where
production costs are high, sugar exporters are likely to find it difficult to compete in a context of
much lower EU prices for sugar. Lower cost sugar producers will need to increase export volumes to
make up for the lower sugar prices on the EU market.


The EU’s action plan for sugar is aimed at supporting ACP sugar exporters. For “uncompetitive”
sugar producers the action plan will support efforts towards diversification, which must be linked
to broader development programmes. Competitive sugar exporters will be supported in improving
the efficiency of their sugar industries. The chapter argues that the EU’s action plan can draw two




4 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


important lessons from the experience of support in the banana sector. First, efforts to support
diversification in the banana sector have been disappointing and it is important that this problem
is not repeated in the EU’s action plan for ACP sugar exporters regarded as “uncompetitive”.
Second, banana sector support for exporters regarded as “uncompetitive” prevented the EU from
assisting producers to develop new market opportunities where its support could have played an
important role. The same mistake could be avoided if the action plan for sugar is open to the many
opportunities available to sugar producers.


Unlike the banana and sugar sectors, the cut flower trade is not affected by tariffs and trade
regimes. Low or zero tariffs in most importing countries, together with improvements in transport
logistics, have led to a shift in production to developing world countries. Several ACP countries have
become significant players in the cut flower export trade. The cut flower value chain is undergoing
rapid transformation in the face of increased production, changing consumer demands, new codes
of conduct and the role of supermarket retailers in the sale of flowers. Although the process is
uneven, the cut flower chain is becoming increasingly buyer-driven.


While the complexity of cut flower production has tended to exclude smallholders in the developing
world, this is a labour intensive industry. Women workers make up a high proportion of the labour
force in the cut flower export sector. The poor working conditions for those employed in the cut
flower industry has been the focus of many media and NGO campaigns. These highly publicised
campaigns have revealed problems associated with wages, working hours, freedom of association
and health and safety. The cut flower chapter assesses multi-stakeholder efforts to improve
working conditions.


Malaysia and Indonesia control the production and export of palm oil products. Palm oil is now the
most widely traded vegetable oil product. The growing demand for palm oil is due to its versatility
and its high yields relative to other seed oil commodities. Increases in the volume of palm oil
production in the last decade have consistently exceeded industry forecasts.


The palm oil value chain is producer-driven, but the role of consumers and NGOs in the chain
represents a significant development. In the last decade non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
have actively campaigned against palm oil producers by highlighting the impact of their activities
on fragile ecosystems and indigenous communities. The problem for NGO activists is that palm oil is
a hidden ingredient in a very wide range of foods, cosmetics and detergents. This makes it difficult
for NGOs and other stakeholders to encourage consumers to exercise the choice of purchasing a
sustainably produced palm oil product.


In the last decade many companies involved in the palm oil sector have introduced codes of
conduct to ensure that they source from – or invest in – sustainable palm oil production. More
recently, the industry has established a multi-stakeholder group for sustainable palm oil. The group
is active in establishing criteria for sustainable palm oil and in supporting smallholder producers.
Since consumer choice is fundamental to the process of mobilising pressure on the industry, a key
challenge for this multi-stakeholder group involves establishing a credible mechanism for tracing
sustainably produced palm through the value chain.


The concluding chapter brings together some of the key themes that have emerged from the
four commodity study. These include: new patterns of investment linked to trade reform, the
role of multi-stakeholder groups, support for producers affected by trade preference erosion, and
chain governance.




5ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


In the last decade the “commodity issue” has
re-emerged as a key problem for developing
country producers and has become a significant
topic of debate within governments and
multilateral institutions. A solution to the
commodity crisis is now seen as central to
development initiatives and poverty alleviation
strategies. The purpose of this report is to
contribute to these debates by providing an
analysis of the value chains for four tropical
commodities (bananas, sugar, cut flowers and
palm oil) in a rapidly changing global trade
environment. We seek particularly to provide
insights on the different ways the significant
changes occurring in commodity chains’
structure and governance ultimately affect
producers income and production sustainability.
We also offer recommendations for improving
producer income and sustainability.


The value chain approach has become an
increasingly important framework for examining
changes in the global trade of commodities and
their implications for primary producers. Rather
than describing the broad patterns of global
exchange and assessing their consequences
for producers and consumers exclusively
through market mechanism and equilibrium
price changes, the global value chain (GVC)
framework encompasses the production,
processing, distribution and marketing of
specific globally-traded commodities, and the
main stakeholders involved at each stage. It
also highlights governance patterns whereby all
these different stages are coordinated and the
role of lead firms in determining market access,
product definition and value across the chain is
specified (Schmitz, 2005). The early literature
on value chains identified two distinct ways in
which value chains are governed (Gereffi 1994,
Gereffi 1999). In buyer-driven chains the lead
firms are usually retailers, traders or large
processors and they play an important role in
determining the functional division of labour
in the value chain. Producer-driven chains, on
the other hand, are those where barriers to
entry to production roles are high and where


economies of scale are important. The more
recent literature on value chains has elaborated
on the concept of chain governance. Through
case studies, researchers have documented
changes in governance associated with the shift
from producer-driven to buyer-driven chains,
and derived the economic consequences for
the stakeholders involved at the various stages.
The way in which chains are driven and the
role of lead agents in the chain are particularly
important for developing country producers as
they determine their relative gains or losses
(when compared to the other actors in the
chain) during the globalization process.


Further, from a sustainable development
perspective, the GVC debates on chain
governance and upgrading are of particular
significance. The idea of upgrading has
particular relevance for policy makers and
especially those interested in “spreading the
gains from globalisation” (Kaplinsky, 2000).
Upgrading refers to the process of firms or
entire sectors taking on more complex and
profitable production functions within a value
chain. It is also associated with firms adding
more value to products with a view to capturing
more value in the chain. For developing country
firms and farmers, upgrading provides a way
of securing a more sustainable position in a
context where the terms of trade are highly
unstable and consequently, raw commodity
export specialization can be highly risky.


Lastly, researchers have identified other ways
in which value chain analysis may be important
for policy-makers and development agents. The
GVC framework allows NGOs, unions and other
stakeholders to identify leverage points with a
view to improving working conditions, offering
new opportunities for small enterprises and for
pressing for improvements in the environmental
impact of production and trade. As is discussed
in the case studies on cut flowers, palm oil,
bananas and sugar, NGOs and other stakeholders
have been very successful in mobilising
consumer pressure to influence the social and


1. INTRODUCTION




6 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


environmental conditions under which globally
traded commodities are produced.


The report focuses on four tropical commodities:
bananas, sugar, cut flowers and palm oil.
The selection of the four commodities was
based on several criteria. First, sugar and
bananas represent commodities that are highly
regulated through global and multilateral
trading agreements while cut flowers and
palm oil represent commodities that are
much less regulated through multilateral or
bilateral trading arrangements. Second, the
commodities selected are subject to different
forms of chain governance. The cut flower and
banana chains are becoming increasingly buyer-
driven by supermarket retailers; in contrast
the sugar and palm oil chains are not buyer-
driven. In these last two commodity chains,
large processors or trading companies rather
than retailers are responsible for determining
the governance pattern. Third, two of the
products are processed (sugar and palm oil) and
two are sold with only limited processing (cut
flowers and bananas). These differences play
an important role in shaping issues of quality,
traceability and chain governance. While the
four commodities reveal different patterns of
change and restructuring, it is significant that
there are also commonalities which reflect
broader processes of change in the trade of
tropical commodities.


The commodity studies in this report focus
on four themes: changes in the geography of
production, changes in chain governance, new
developments in trade agreements and their
impacts on primary producers in different
developing countries, and initiatives towards
sustainable production, ethical trade and
worker welfare. With regard to changes in
production, the report provides insights into
new developments in the production of bananas,
sugar, palm oil and cut flowers, which have
been driven by changes in trade agreements
and new investment patterns. In several of
the commodities concerned an important
development has been the rise of new low cost
producers, who will play a role in shaping the
global market for these commodities.


With regard to changes in chain governance the
commodity studies reveal different patterns of
chain reconfiguration. In the banana and cut
flower chains supermarket retailers are now
playing a central role in chain governance with
important implications for exporters and primary
producers. In the sugar and palm oil chains the
role of buyers is limited and these chains are
driven by large processors and producers. The
large sugar and palm oil companies are actively
involved in new international investments
associated with changes in the trade regime (in
the case of sugar) and new opportunities for
low cost production (in the case of palm oil).


The banana and sugar chapters are concerned
with the impact of trade reform and specifically
the impact of trade preference erosion on
ACP banana and sugar exporters. The process
of trade reform in bananas has already had
a significant impact on higher cost banana
exporters. This chapter assesses the potential
of fair trade as a way of overcoming the loss
of trade preferences. In the case of sugar, the
reform process is more recent, but is also likely
to impact higher cost ACP sugar producers.
However, the options for sugar producers are
greater due to the different ways in which the
commodity can be transformed into a tradable
good. The report also assesses EU support for
ACP banana and sugar producers. EU support
for banana exporters has been in existence
for more than a decade and its impact on
competitive and uncompetitive exporters is
currently under scrutiny. The report argues
that the lessons of the banana experience
can be used to inform more recent efforts to
assist ACP sugar exporters affected by trade
preference erosion.


With regard to the emergence of sustainability
initiatives and worker welfare initiatives,
the report details the emergence of multi-
stakeholder groups, which are most evident
in the cut flower and palm oil commodities. In
the case of the cut flower sector the effort of
multi-stakeholder groups is geared primarily to
issues of worker welfare while initiatives in the
palm oil chain are associated with the
environmental sustainability of palm oil




7ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


production. In both cases NGOs have been able
to mobilise consumer pressure to demand more
sustainable production practices.


The four commodity case studies and the
four themes provide important insights into
changes in the trading environment for tropical
commodities and their implications for producers
and exporters. Although there are significant
differences between the four case studies there
are also important commonalities, which point
to broader processes driving the restructuring
of the trade in tropical products.


1.1. References
Gereffi, G. and Korzeniewicz, M. (eds). (1994).
Commodity Chains and Global Capitalism.
Praeger. Westport, CT. USA.


Gereffi, G. (1994). “The Organization of Buyer-
Driven Global Commodity Chains: How United
States Retailers Shape Overseas Production
Networks”, in G. Gereffi and M. Korzeniewicz
(eds), Commodity Chains and Global Capitalism,
Praeger. Westport, CT. USA. pp. 95-122.


Gereffi, G. (1999). “International Trade and
Industrial Upgrading in the Apparel Commodity
Chain”. Journal of International Economics,
48, pp. 37–70.


Kaplinsky, R. (2000). Spreading the Gains from
Globalisation: What Can be Learned from
Value Chain Analysis. Institute of Development
Studies. Sussex. United Kingdom.


Schmitz, H. (2005). Value Chain Analysis for
Policy-Makers and Practitioners. International
Labour Organization. Geneva. Switzerland.




8 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


2. ACP BANANA EXPORTS AND TRADE
PREFERENCE EROSION


The reform of the EU banana regime over the
last 15 years has played an important role
in shaping the global trade in bananas. EU
trade preferences for African, Caribbean and
Pacific (ACP) countries have led to several
ACP countries, especially in Africa, becoming
significant exporters to the EU market. At the
same time, however, changes to the regime over
the last decade have led to greater competition
in the EU market and lower prices, which has had
a devastating impact on higher cost producers,
particularly in the Caribbean. Support to ACP
exporters affected by trade preference erosion
has been in place since the mid-1990s, but the
success of these initiatives has been uneven.


A parallel development has been the growing
concentration of fruit retailing in the United
Kingdom and other European countries.
Supermarkets have challenged the power of
trans-national banana exporters that have
traditionally controlled the banana trade. The
governance of the value chain seems to have
shifted from one controlled by producers to
one where buyers play a dominant role. The
shift to supermarket-driven banana chains
has led to a greater emphasis on quality and
niche markets including fair trade. Indeed, all


of the major UK retailers now sell fair trade
bananas. The growth of the fair trade market is
very important to high cost Caribbean banana
exporters affected by trade preference erosion.
For most analysts this represents the only option
for their continued participation in the banana
export market.


This chapter argues that the EU’s programme
for ACP banana exporters has missed the
opportunity of supporting fair trade banana
exporters in the Caribbean. EU support in the
Caribbean was, instead, directed towards
diversification efforts, the results of which are
tentative or inconclusive. The recommendations
emphasise the challenges of the fair trade
market for smallholder farmers and the support
they require to become competitive in this
value chain.


The second section of the chapter examines the
production and trade in bananas. Section three
examines the banana value chain and explores
recent changes in chain governance. Sections
four and five focus on the EU’s banana regime
and its impact on ACP banana exporters. In
section six the EU’s support framework for ACP
banana exporters is described and evaluated.


2.1. Introduction


The global trade in bananas may be divided into
three systems (Arias et al, 2003). Latin American
exports are equally divided between North
America and Europe with the remainder going
to Russia, Asia and New Zealand. Caribbean
and African banana exports are sold almost
exclusively in Europe. The Philippines is the
largest exporter of bananas in the Asian region.
This country’s banana production represents
over 75 percent of Asian country exports.
The Philippines supply markets are Japan and
several countries in the Middle East (Figure 2.1).
Although there has been some diversification
in terms of import markets, banana exporters


remain focused on North American, European
and several Asian country markets.


Most banana producers are, or have been,
highly dependent on bananas for export
earnings. In Latin America there is some
diversity in terms of export dependence. In
2000, Ecuador’s banana exports represented
over 60 percent of agricultural exports and
over 16% of all merchandise exports. The other
large Latin American banana exporters (Costa
Rica, Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras) are
somewhat less dependent on banana exports.
In these countries, bananas represent between


2.2. Global Trade, Production and Prices




9ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


Figure 2.1: Banana Exports 2005


Source: Comtrade


16 and 30 percent of agricultural exports and
between 3 and 23 percent of all exports (UNCTAD,
2003). Although they are less dependent on
exports, banana production is usually restricted
to specific regions and these rely heavily on the
banana economy for both direct and indirect
employment. Caribbean countries, in contrast,
are far more dependent on banana production
for export revenue and employment (Anderson
et al, 2003).


The 2000 figures for African banana exporters –
Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon – reveal lower
levels of export dependence on bananas.
Banana exports for Cameroon in this year were
3 percent of all merchandise exports while
the same figure for Côte d’Ivoire was less than
2 percent, a figure that remained unchanged
to the present (Arias et al, 2003). The growth
of banana exports in Cameroon since 2000 has
resulted in this figure increasing to 5 percent of
total merchandise exports.1


The extent to which banana exporters are
“commodity dependent” on bananas for export
earnings has changed dramatically in the last
15 years. In the mid-1990s, Latin America’s


most important banana exporting countries –
Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia and Guatemala –
were classified as “commodity dependent
developing countries” (CDDCs).2 By 2003 all
four of these countries had moved out of the
category of CDDC through the diversification of
their export markets.3 Predictably, given the
dominant position of these four countries in the
banana export market, the share of bananas
produced by CDDC countries declined from
67.4 percent in the mid-1990s to only
7.4 percent in the mid-2000s (Gibbon, 2006).


Several other banana exporting countries
also moved out of the category of commodity
dependent countries, but not necessarily
because they successfully diversified their
economies. St Lucia and Grenada, two of the
Caribbean’s Windward Islands, are cases in
point. Banana exports in these two countries
have declined dramatically in the period since
the early 1990s. According to the most recent
statistics, Grenada has effectively withdrawn
from the export market altogether. In St Lucia,
banana exports were well over 100,000 tonnes
per year until the mid-1990s; the most recent
figures indicate that St Lucia exported only




10 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


34,243 tonnes in 2005 (Windward Islands,
2007). Both countries have not diversified their
economies away from bananas but have instead
replaced one form of dependence with another.
In St Lucia, for example, the economy has
focused on tourism, which is now the island’s
most important economic sector and generator
of foreign exchange (Gillson et al, 2005).
Several other ACP banana exporters remained in
the category of CDDC. Africa’s most important
banana producers – Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire –
continued to be classified as commodity
dependent countries, largely because of their
dependence on several agricultural commodities
(cotton, cocoa).


The significance of these changes is that the
largest and most competitive banana exporting
countries are no longer “commodity dependent”.
In contrast, many of the least competitive
banana producers remain in a situation of
commodity dependence in an increasingly
competitive global market. These commodity
dependent banana exporters are characterised
by smaller farm size, weak infrastructure and an
inefficient financial system (Gibbon, 2006), and
they compete with banana exporters producing
large volumes of cheaper fruit.


Key changes in production and exports:


Decline in Caribbean island exports. Export
volumes from the Caribbean have declined
rapidly in the last 15 years. In the mid-1990s
the Caribbean’s share of global exports was
4 percent, but this has since declined to less
than 2 percent. The decline in exports has,
however, been uneven within the Caribbean. In
the four Windward Islands (St Lucia, Grenada,
St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica)
exports have declined sharply over the last
decade. The 2005 exports figures are less than
a third of what they were in the early 1990s.
The Dominican Republic was granted ACP
status in 1990 and it has since then increased
its banana exports significantly. In the mid-
2000s it contributed almost 50 percent of all
Caribbean banana exports. Belize, Jamaica and
Suriname have also increased exports in the
last 15 despite short-term environmental and
economic challenges.


Increased exports from Latin America. This
region dominates the global production of
bananas for export. In 2005, Latin American
exports represented almost 80 percent of total
global exports of bananas.4 The most important
exporting countries are Ecuador, Costa Rica,
Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras with almost
90 percent of the region’s exports. These five
countries contribute almost three quarters of
global banana exports. In the last two decades
exports from Latin America have increased
rapidly, although they have most recently lost
some share to Asian countries.


Increased exports from Africa. Within Africa
there are two important producing countries:
Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon. Although there
are other exporting countries in the continent
(e.g. Ghana), these two countries represent
over 85 percent of Africa’s banana exports.
Banana exports by these countries increased
from around 180,000 tonnes in the early 1990s
to over 450,000 tonnes in 2005.5


The rise of new exporters. The largest
percentage increases in banana exports over
the last decade have come from Brazil and
Vietnam. Brazil now exports over 220,000
tonnes of bananas while Vietnam exported
more than 100,000 tonnes in 2002. Although
Vietnam’s exports of bananas have more recently
declined, apparently due to quality problems,
the country plans to increase plantings to
25,000 hectares by 2010. The significance of
these countries for the banana export market is
that they are “commodity developers” (Gibbon,
2006). The term refers to countries that have
become extremely effective in competing in
global markets for food and fibre commodities
thanks to economies of scale in both primary
production and in infrastructure and through
their ability to identify new markets. The scale
of production has allowed countries like Brazil
and Vietnam to become competitive in volume
and price terms, but often at the expense of
other commodity exporters who are adversely
affected by lower prices. India also has the
potential to become a new exporter: in 2007
it began trial exports of bananas to the Middle
East.6 Given that India is the largest producer
of bananas in the world, it has the potential




11ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


of playing a very significant role in the global
export market. The prospect of Brazil, Vietnam
and India becoming significant players in the
banana export market should be of concern to
other exporters, particularly those with higher
cost structures.


Increased competition, lower value. In real
terms, the rapid growth of exports has had a
negative impact on global export values for
bananas. The increase in export volumes in the
period from the mid-1990s is associated with


the changes in the EU banana trade regime and
the expectation that a more liberal trading
environment would lead to significant increases
in consumption. Since these expectations were
not met, export production has exceeded
consumption leading to price pressure and
increased competition in most markets (UNCTAD,
2003). The EU’s new trade arrangement
introduced in 2006 has led to further increases
in imports, which has increased competition
and put further pressure on banana prices.


The global value chain for bananas is represented
in Figure 2.2. At the level of production,
bananas tend to be produced either on very
small land holdings or on very large plantations.
It is estimated that 80 percent of global exports
originate from large-scale plantations and the
rest from smaller farms (Arias et al, 2003). There
is considerable diversity of production systems
both within and between banana exporting
countries. For instance, while small-scale
farming is dominant in the Windward Islands
(Anderson et al, 2003), large-scale plantation
production dominates in Costa Rica (Brenes and
Madrigal, 2003). In Ecuador, banana production
for export occurs on a range of scales including
small and medium-sized farms as well as very


large plantations. There is also diversity in
terms of farm ownership. While production in
Ecuador tends to be in local hands, in Costa Rica
trans-national banana exporters own or control
a significant proportion of banana plantations
(UNCTAD, 2003).


There is considerably less diversity in the chain
after the farm gate. The process of transporting,
ripening and distributing bananas is highly
concentrated with five very large corporations
controlling as much as 80 percent of banana
exports. The remaining 20 percent of exports
is nonetheless very fragmented: a large number
of smaller exporting companies are involved in
sourcing and marketing bananas, often using the


2.3. The Global Value Chain for Bananas


Figure 2.2: Banana Export Chain


Source: UNCTAD 2003


Medium Exporters


Vertically Integrated Corporation


Growers Transport / Ripening


ProductionContracts


Transport
Companies


Transporters Ripeners


Independent
Growers


ContractsProduction


Transport / RipeningGrowers


Importers


Wholesalers


Ripeners


Speciality
Chains


Food
Services


Super-
markets


Advance


Purchase


Retail /
Marketing


Consignment
Sales


Consignment
Sales


Consignment
Sales




12 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


infrastructure of the larger banana corporations
(van de Kasteele and van der Stichele, 2005).


The five large trans-national banana exporters –
Dole, Del Monte, Chiquita, Fyffes and Noboa –
are vertically integrated to varying degrees
into production, transportation, ripening
and distribution. Of the five large trans-
nationals, only Fyffes is not directly involved
in producing bananas on company-owned farms
(Fyffes, 2006). The other large companies
own plantations in Latin America, Africa and
Asia. The large banana exporters own, or have
owned, the infrastructure for shipping and
transport. The situation regarding shipping
has, however, changed over time. For example,
Chiquita purchased a fleet of ships in the late
1990s in order to prepare itself for an expected
increased consumption in Europe in the wake
of the reform of the EU banana regime. By the
mid-2000s, however, Chiquita was forced to sell
off much of the fleet due to the financial crisis
facing the company. Although Fyffes did own
several refrigerated ships, these were sold in
2001. Noboa owns refrigerated ships through its
subsidiary Transmabo.


Once the bananas are offloaded at ports in
Europe, the United States and Asia they are
transported to ripening facilities so that the
fruit can be prepared for distribution. All of
the trans-national banana exporters own their
own ripening and distribution facilities in the
markets they supply (UNCTAD, 2003). In Europe,
investment by these companies in ripening and
distribution infrastructure increased in the
period after 1993 with the shift to a single
European market for bananas. Under the post
1993 banana regime, trans-national companies
were able to secure access to the EU market by
investing in ripening and distribution facilities
in Europe (Taylor, 2003).


The concentrated structure of production
shipping, ripening and distribution in the
banana export chain has allowed the five large
banana companies to exercise market power
over other agents in the chain. According to a
recent UNCTAD (2003, 9) report, “a few major
trans-national banana-marketing corporations
dominate international banana marketing and


trade and are able to exercise their market
power at several or all stages of the banana
marketing chain”.


While the banana trans-nationals have
historically exercised market power in the
banana chain, the growing power of supermarket
retailers in both Europe and the United States is
providing an important challenge. The source of
retailer power is the increasing concentration
of retailing in both the US and the European
Union (Dolan and Humphrey, 2004). In Europe
food sales are most concentrated in Austria,
the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom
and France. Although the level of retail
concentration is lower in the Mediterranean
countries of Spain, Italy and Greece, the
last decade has seen growing levels of retail
concentration. Data on the sale of bananas in
different retail environments is not available.
However, the figures on sales of fresh fruit and
vegetables provide an indication of the level of
concentration in banana sales (van de Kasteele
and van der Stichele, 2005). The figures on fresh
fruit and vegetables suggest that concentration
is higher than it is for general food product
sales. In the Netherlands and the United
Kingdom, more than 70 percent of all fresh
fruit and vegetables are sold through
supermarket chains.


Supermarket chains have been able to use their
dominant position in fresh fruit and vegetable
sales to make new demands on suppliers,
which has in turn led to significant changes
in the structure of fruit and vegetable value
chains. Supermarket chains, and especially
the “discounters”, have also played a more
active role in setting prices, which appears
to have been controlled by banana exporters
in the past.7 Finally, supermarket chains have
used the “structural oversupply” of bananas
to press for more value added services from
their suppliers.


The “reversal” of the banana chain from one
that has been producer-driven, to one that is
increasingly buyer-driven has led to important
changes in the banana value chain. Lower prices
for bananas and intense competition have led
to the large trans-nationals moving out of less




13ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


profitable parts of the banana value chain and
into activities that generate higher profits. An
example is the shift from owning plantations to
sourcing bananas from independent producers:
“Multinationals now tend to establish long term
supply contracts with independent banana
growers, specifying shapes, quantities, standards
of quality and packaging” (UNCTAD, 2003, 11).
By divesting out of primary production, the
large exporters can avoid the environmental
problems associated with primary production as
well as the risks of industrial action. Chiquita’s
sale of its Colombian division in 2004 to Banacol,
a local exporter, is an example of this process.
The trans-national now has an eight-year
agreement to purchase a specified volume of
bananas from Banacol (Chiquita 2006). Overall,
Chiquita has decreased the amount of bananas
originating from company-owned farms from 64
percent in the mid-1980s to less than 50 percent
in the early 2000s (UNCTAD, 2003). The sale of
its Colombian division in 2004 is likely to have
reduced this figure.


Although there has been some shift out of direct
production by banana trans-nationals, these
companies continue to own and invest land in
banana producing countries. The divestments
that have occurred are often linked to political
problems or higher cost structures and this is
often followed by re-investment in another
country where production costs are lower. In
its 2006 annual report, Del Monte declared
its intentions to expand production in South
America, the Philippines and Africa (Del
Monte, 2006), while Dole has announced its
plans to increase its land holdings in Ecuador
and Cameroon (Dole, 2005). The investments
by Dole and Del Monte in Cameroon and Côte
d’Ivoire are directly linked to the changes in the
EU banana regime, which created incentives for
exporters to source bananas from ACP countries,
particularly where costs were lower. According
to an estimate made in the early 2000s, as
much as 50 percent of the bananas marketed by
Dole and Del Monte are from company-owned
plantations (Arias et al, 2003).


In the last decade, the largest three exporters
have decreased their dependence on bananas
for export revenue and have diversified into


other fruit and vegetables. They have also
moved into prepared fresh fruit. Banana sales
represent around 33 percent of the total sales
for Dole and Del Monte (Dole, 2005; Del Monte
2006). Chiquita has traditionally been more
dependent on bananas than the other trans-
nationals, but this changed dramatically in the
last few years. In 2004, bananas represented
55.7 percent of sales, but only 43 percent of
sales in 2006 (Chiquita 2006).


The large banana exporters have all diversified
into the “prepared food” market in order
to increase the value of their fruit exports.
In 2004 Chiquita acquired Fresh Express, a
company that supplies ready made salads to
supermarkets and other retail outlets (Chiquita,
2006). Fresh Del Monte acquired Del Monte
Foods, which produces processed fruit and
vegetables, juices, snacks and desserts (Del
Monte, 2006). Besides these initiatives all of
the trans-nationals have attempted to improve
the efficiency of their supply management and
logistics systems (Taylor, 2003).


The new strategies of the banana trans-
nationals are shaped by the competition to
become “preferred suppliers” of the large
supermarket chains. In the last decade,
supermarkets have decreased the size of their
supply base for individual categories of fruit
like bananas, citrus and apples (Wilson, 1996;
Dolan and Humphrey, 2004). The competition
between exporters to become a preferred
supplier has allowed supermarkets to pass
down many functions to exporters including
distribution, quality control, marketing and
logistics. Fyffes’ recent decision to separate its
produce and distribution/marketing division by
creating a new division called “Total Produce”
reflects the demands placed on the company
by supermarkets as well as Fyffes’ efforts to
become a preferred supplier.


Banana producer organisations have responded
to the market challenges of the last decade by
becoming vertically integrated into the value
chain. The Jamaican Producers Group was
established in the 1940s and was originally a
banana cooperative. In the last decade the
company has extended its role by shipping




14 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


bananas from Jamaica and Costa Rica through
its own fleet of boats. The bananas are ripened
and distributed through a UK-based importing
company. By extending its presence in the value
chain, the company hopes to capture more
value (Banana Link 2006).


The new tariff-only trade regime that was
introduced on 1 January 2006 has intensified
competition in the European Union banana
market and has created additional financial
problems for the major banana exporters.
According to preliminary figures, imports to
the EU increased by 12 percent in 2006. The
increased competition in the EU combined
with a higher tariff rate of €176 per tonne of
bananas led to financial losses for the large
trans-national banana corporations. Fyffes
reported a loss of €49 million for 2006, which
they attribute to the increase in import duties
(Fyffes, 2006). Chiquita reported having lost a
total of USD 185 million for 2006; they attribute
USD 110 million in losses to lower banana
prices and the remaining loss to higher tariffs
in the EU (Chiquita, 2006). The impact of the
€176 tariff on banana producers has prompted
EU negotiators to offer a tariff cut to Latin
American producers with a view to persuading
them to withdraw trade suits against the EU.8


Key changes in the value chain:


“Reversal” of the chain. The most significant
development in the banana value chain is the
impact of powerful buyers on the large trans-


national banana exporters. In the period before
the increasing consolidation of supermarkets in
Europe, banana exporters played a “prominent
role in setting the rules of the game” (UNCTAD,
2003, 12). Since the mid-1990s, however,
supermarkets have exercised their growing
market power over banana exporters by
demanding higher quality and process standards
and by passing functions “up the chain”.


Strategies of trans-nationals. The large
trans-national banana exporters are adapting
to changes in the governance of the chain by
providing a wider range of fruit and more value
added products in order to increase profits
and to improve their chances of becoming a
preferred supplier of a supermarket chain.
Increased competition, especially in the EU
market, is also leading to diversification out of
bananas and divestment out of riskier aspects of
production, especially in banana growing. The
sale of banana landholdings in Latin America by
trans-nationals is, however, uneven and these
large exporters continue to play an important
role in banana production.


Direct sourcing. Several supermarkets are
bypassing the large trans-nationals and are
now sourcing bananas directly from producer
organisations in Latin America and the
Caribbean. In the Caribbean, direct sourcing is
frequently associated with efforts to increase
the volume of fair trade bananas on the
supermarket shelves.


The changing EU banana regime has played a
crucial role in shaping the structure of banana
exports. For banana exporting countries the
overall impact has been to increase competition
between ACP and non-ACP countries as well
as within the ACP group itself. The impact of
changes in the EU banana trade regime have
been particularly difficult for higher cost
banana producers who have found it increasingly
difficult to compete with lower cost producers
in a more competitive market.


Before 1993, individual European countries
determined their own banana import regulations.


These regulations ranged from zero duty in
Germany to a 20 percent tariff rate in Belgium,
Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands. The
United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal and France
provided access to their own producers or
former colonies in Africa, the Pacific and the
Caribbean. In 1993, these diverse import regimes
were harmonised to bring them in line with the
single European market (Arias et al, 2003).
The new regime introduced in 1993 provided a
compromise between countries still wanting to
provide preferential access to former colonies
and the demands of Latin American exporters
of bananas, whose production costs were low.


2.4. EU Banana Trade Regime




15ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


The new regime provided a duty- free quota of
875,000 tonnes of bananas for ACP countries.
The quota for non-traditional ACP countries and
Latin American exporters (“dollar” producers)
was initially set at two million tonnes with a
duty of €75 per tonne.9


A second component of the 1993 regime was
a license system, which encouraged EU based
importers to source from more expensive
ACP producing countries. In practice, the
license system has led to trans-national
banana producers investing in ripening and
distribution enterprises in the European Union
and in production in lower cost ACP countries,
most notably Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire
(Taylor, 2003).


During the mid and late 1990s, the single
European market regime was subject to numerous
challenges through the dispute settlement
mechanism of the General Agreement on Tariffs
and Trade (GATT) and subsequently through the
World Trade Organization (WTO). From the 1st
of January 2006, the quota-license-tariff regime
was replaced by a tariff only system. The tariff
adopted in late 2005 was €176/tonne for non-
ACP countries; ACP countries have benefited
from duty-free access to the European Union,
although the total quota is now 750,000 tonnes
(Agritrade, 2007). Whether ACP countries will
continue to benefit from the tariff only system,
has been brought into question with Ecuador’s
challenge against this regime through the WTO’s
dispute settlement mechanism. In late 2007 the
WTO’s dispute panel released an interim ruling,


in favour of Ecuador and against the EC’s tariff
regime for bananas. There are two potential
courses of action for the EC. First, the EC may
attempt to build a case insisting that the tariff
system is compatible with signed or interim EPAs
with banana producing countries. Alternatively,
the EC may be forced by the ruling to reduce
the tariff on bananas for non-ACP imports to
the EU.


The single European market has led to much
lower banana prices in the EU, which has
impacted negatively on exporters with higher
cost structures. There is evidence to suggest that
prices for bananas within the European Union are
now converging as a result of the single market
(Gillson et al, 2005). The unfolding of the new
regime has also created competition within the
ACP group of countries. In 1999 the allocation of
quotas to individual ACP countries was replaced
in favour of a “first come first served” general
quota for all ACP countries. The impact of this
change has allowed lower cost ACP producers
to increase their share of the quota at the
expense of higher cost exporters, especially in
the Windward Island banana exporters.


The introduction of a tariff-only system in
2006 has had a significant impact on the EU
banana market. In the first 11 months of 2006,
ACP exports of bananas to the EU increased
by 20 percent. Banana exports from Latin
American also increased by 10 percent. The
impact of the larger volume of bananas on the
EU market was a 20 percent decline in prices
(Agritrade, 2007).


The statistics on the costs of banana production
are not widely available and most surveys rely
on older data on wage rates and other proxies
for production costs (Chambron, 1999; Vanzetti
et al, 2005). Providing accurate figures on
production costs is complicated by the wide
range of factors that contribute to higher or
lower production costs including yields, wage
rates, economies of scale, transport costs and
the impact of climatic events. The most recent
survey, conducted by NERA Economic Consulting
and Oxford Policy Management (OPM), has


export unit values as a way of analysing
different production costs (NERA/OPM 2004). In
this report a similar approach is followed with
the most recent available data.


The most recent data on export unit values
suggests that there have been some important
changes in production costs in the last three
years. The NERA/OPM report found that while
Caribbean producers had the highest costs,
export values were similar for Latin American
and African producers (NERA/OPM). The most


2.5. Impact on Banana Exporting Countries




16 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


recent statistics confirm that Latin American
producers have retained their competitive
advantage and that Caribbean production costs
are much higher. Export unit values for African
producers have, however, increased significantly
in the last three years (Table 2.1). Indeed, the
values for Côte d’Ivoire now exceed those of
the least competitive Caribbean producers. It
remains to be seen whether this is a short term
issue that will be resolved soon or whether it
represents a more serious structural problem in
banana production.


The figures on export unit values also suggest
some important changes within the Caribbean.
Jamaica’s production costs appear to have
decreased dramatically between 2003 and
2005. Given that export volumes from Jamaica
have declined during the same period (see
below), it is difficult to determine whether
these represent a real change in production
costs. In contrast, production costs in Belize
have increased dramatically; based on these
data, Belize is now the highest cost producer in
the Caribbean.


The structure of production plays a crucial
role in accounting for the differences in
banana production costs. In the Caribbean’s
Windward Islands, production is dominated
by a large number of smallholders who farm
in landscapes that limit the possibilities of
mechanisation or irrigation (NERA/OPM,


2004). In contrast, the structure of production
in the lowest cost banana exporting countries
is far less fragmented with most export
production coming from large plantations
where mechanisation, irrigation and rapid
transport are possible. Where production is
more differentiated, as is the case in Ecuador,
small and medium-sized farmers are efficiently
integrated into modern and mechanised
export chains. In Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon,
production also occurs on a large scale, which
has allowed exporters to compete in European
markets. Indeed, according to one source,
production costs in Cameroon are lower than
they are in Ecuador (Banana Link, 2006).


Climatic factors play an important role in
shaping production costs in the long and short
term. In the Caribbean, banana producers tend
to be more reliant on irrigation, which has a
significant impact on production costs. Perhaps
more importantly, they are more vulnerable
to severe climatic events associated with
hurricanes (NERA/OPM, 2004). The impact
of Hurricane Dean in August 2007 underlines
the vulnerability of the Caribbean to severe
weather events. The impact of hurricanes like
Dean requires replanting, which in turn leads to
higher costs. The delay in resuming production
can be as long as eight months, which imposes
financial hardships on owners, farm workers
and other people linked to the banana sector.
Although it is difficult to quantify the precise


Table 2.1: Banana Export Unit Values (USD per tonne)


Source: Comtrade


1990 1995 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Belize 413 480 382 386 409 367 414 551
Dominica 523 485 440 437 452 478 514 517
Dominican Republic 463 468 378 391 434 451 497 518
Grenada 416 490 450 443 454 505 555 260
Jamaica 550 540 506 471 479 435 388 402
Saint Vincent and
the Grenadines 535 493 445 432 433 461 499 529
Cameroon 439 452 392 346 287 374 412 416
Côted’Ivoire 500 468 297 315 325 412 539 566


Colombia 285 336 288 291 287 310 315 329
Costa Rica 325 342 276 286 286 311 315 322
Ecuador 261 299 259 273 270 291 290 308




17ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


impact of climatic events on cost structures,
it is clear that they play a role. Climatic
conditions in Latin America, in contrast, are far
more favourable: not only are Latin American
countries more protected from hurricanes but
the climate allows farmers to produce bananas
throughout the year.


There have been several surveys of wage costs,
which all confirm that wages are higher in the
Caribbean than they are in Latin America or
Africa. The NERA/OPM (2004) report cites an
International Monetary Fund (IMF) study that
found wage rates to be five times higher in
the Windward Islands than in Ecuador, which
is recognised to have the lowest wage rates of
all countries.


Exports from the Caribbean, and especially the
Windward Islands, have declined dramatically
as a result of the changing trade regime for
bananas and the higher cost structure for
banana production. Grenada has effectively
stopped exporting while exports from St
Lucia, Dominica, St Vincent and Jamaica have
declined dramatically from the early 1990s. In
the case of Jamaica, export volumes in 2004
and 2005 were affected by Hurricane Ivan. The
Caribbean countries of Belize and the Dominican
Republic are exceptions and both countries have
increased the volume of banana exports. Within
the ACP group of banana exporters, African
producers have also increased export volumes
Europe. The main exporters in Africa are Côte
d’Ivoire and Cameroon.


Banana exports from the Windward Islands have
decreased dramatically from the early 1990s.
In the last three or four years, however, export
volumes from the Windward Islands appear to
be stabilising, albeit at low levels (Table 2.2).
The stabilisation of banana exports in the
Windward Islands may be due to the shift by
many producers to fair trade and other niche
market opportunities.


Information on the impact of the contraction
of the banana sector in the Caribbean and
especially the Windward Islands is not generally
available. The data that exists suggests that
the number of registered farm workers has
declined from over 24,000 in the early 1990s to
around 7,300 in the early 2000s. It is estimated
that 67,000 people – 18 percent of the total
working population in the Caribbean – lost
their jobs between 1993 and 2001 due to the
decline in banana trade. This figure does not
include sectors that support banana exports;
the total number of jobs lost in the economy
as a result of declining banana exports may be
far higher (NERA/OPM, 2004). A concern is the
extent to which former banana farmers may be
“diversifying” into marijuana.10


Research on the impact of trade preference
erosion on ACP banana exporters with high cost
structures consistently suggest two strategies:
diversify out of banana production or explore
the possibility of niche markets (UNCTAD 2003;
FAO, 2003; PASS, 2004; Gillson et al, 2005;
NERA/OPM 2005). In niche markets such as fair


Table 2.2: Banana Exports 1990-2005 (‘000 tonnes)


Source: Comtrade


1990 1995 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Belize 24,167 44,531 66,539 53,162 41,363 99,866 82,977 77,298
St Lucia 133,777 103,668 70,280 34,044 48,029 34,420 43,199 30,958
Dominica 53,156 34,521 31,505 20,626 19,738 11,802 13,637 13,526
Dominican Republic 24,208 77,056 71,179 100,285 109,415 125,395 117,206 159,383
Grenada 11,119 4,741 792 601 566 451 412 3
Jamaica 66,803 88,700 45,573 47,200 46,077 51,448 29,203 12,017
Saint Vincent and
the Grenadines 83,805 51,962 45,839 33,660 36,742 24,847 27,114 19,531
Côted’Ivoire 107,522 182,288 234,408 241,619 252,134 232,229 237,297 198,686
Cameroon 74,535 149,192 159,030 188,476 213,710 278,874 244,659 246,850




18 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


trade, the price premium paid to producers
could make up for the loss of preference and
lower prices for bananas on the EU market.


The shift to fair trade banana production
in the Caribbean in the last seven years has
been remarkable. Fair trade exports from
the Caribbean started in late 1990s through
the efforts of the Windward Islands National
Farmers Association (Fair Trade, 2004; Moberg,
2005). The most recent reports suggest that
as much as 50 percent of banana exports from
St Vincent bear the fair trade label. In St Lucia,
75 percent of banana exports benefit from the
price premium offered through the fair trade
label (Vidal, 2007). Sainsbury’s, the large UK-
based supermarket chain, has recently declared
its intention to source fair trade bananas from
St Lucia. Farmers on the island will be granted
three-year contracts in order to ensure the
sustainability of banana production. The success
of St Vincent and St Lucia has prompted other
Caribbean Islands to follow suit with Jamaica now
declaring its intention to shift all of its banana
exports to fair trade.11 According to the Fair
Trade Foundation, this market opportunity has
led to the revival of banana exports in Dominica
with a number of farmers returning to banana
production (Fair Trade, 2004). Media reports
indicate that fair trade has had a beneficial
impact on producers and banana-dependent
communities (Vidal, 2007).


Detailed field-based research suggests that the
benefits of fair trade go beyond production
related benefits. In Moberg’s (2005, 12) survey
of fair trade banana producers in the Eastern
Caribbean, he found that the farmer organisations
established for fair trade production had
important social benefits: “For most farmers,
participation in a Fair Trade group is the first
opportunity to be part of a democratically-
run community organization not affiliated with
party politics”. Moberg (2005) found that these
organisations were also playing a role in broader
local development planning initiated and
undertaken by local communities.


Field based surveys on fair trade also warn of
the difficulties of supplying this potentially
important niche market. Production standards


and certification requirements are high and
are potentially important obstacles to the
participation of smallholder farmers in fair
trade markets. In her survey of 275 small scale
banana exporters in the Dominican Republic,
Shreck (2002, 2005) found that the rejection of
fruit for fair trade markets, often for cosmetic
reasons, was common. She argues that it creates
a significant obstacle to the “redistributive
potential” of fair trade markets (Shreck, 2005,
24). The challenges associated with this niche
market are such that only 50 of the 275 growers
in her survey could meet its exacting standards.
La Cruz’s article (2006) on smallholders and fair
trade confirms that this niche market “does not
protect inefficiencies”.


Fair trade exporters must also find ways of
meeting the demand of supermarkets for
consistency of supply. Severe climatic events in
the Caribbean periodically destroy plantations
and disrupt exports. The most recent hurricane
to hit the Caribbean destroyed the entire crop in
Dominica and 65 percent of the St Lucia’s banana
plantations (Oxfam, 2007). While supermarkets
like Sainsbury’s have declared their commitment
to selling only fair trade bananas, they cannot
afford not to have an important commodity like
bananas on their shelves, even in the face of a
natural disaster.


A third challenge for Fair Trade producers involves
competition from other ethical labels. Murray
and Reynolds (2000) argue that the proliferation
of certification systems claiming environment
and social standards in banana production poses
a serious threat to fair trade bananas. Many of
the new social and environmental standards have
been developed by large trans-national exporters
or large producer organisations interested in
capturing lucrative niche markets. Yet their
standards are often weaker and may not provide
the benefits that are guaranteed through fair
trade. They also have the potential of confusing
consumers interested in making ethically based
consumption choices.




19ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


The EU’s support programme for banana exporters
started in 1994 with the Special System of
Assistance (SSA), which allocated €95 million to
ACP banana producing countries. The aim of this
programme was to improve the competitiveness
of banana producers, with the assumption that
producers could overcome production constraints
to become competitive in international markets.
The level of assistance was determined by the
“competitiveness gap” of individual countries
(Goodison, 2007).


A detailed evaluation of the SSA programme in
2000 found that its impact was most effective
where it was focused on the productivity of
banana production, which then had a direct
impact on competitiveness (Hubbard et al,
2000). On the other hand, its impact was least
effective in terms of reforming and improving the
efficiency of marketing structures. The report
also noted problems in terms of the efficiency
of disbursement of funds (Hubbard et al,
2000). The outcome of the assessment was five
recommendations for future assistance: remove
the competitiveness gap formula for distributing
funds; focus on improving the effectiveness of
industry organisations and structures; continue
the focus on field productivity, including
assistance on certification (e.g. organic, fair
trade) for banana producers; prioritise social and
environmental conditions given the increasing
interest by consumers in the conditions
under which fruit is produced; and provide
assistance for those displaced from the banana
export sector.


In 1999, the Special Framework for Assistance
(SFA) replaced the previous support system.
The SFA focused its efforts on 12 ACP banana-
exporting countries: Belize, Cameroon, Cape
Verde, Dominica, Grenada, Côte d’Ivoire,
Jamaica, Madagascar, St Lucia, Saint Vincent
and the Grenadines, Somalia and Suriname. An
important change in the new programme was
the recognition that not all banana exporting
countries could become internationally
competitive after the reform of the EU’s banana
regime. While competitive banana producers
would continue to be supported in becoming


more efficient, exporters that could not
compete in the new market environment would
be offered assistance in diversifying out of
banana production. Diversification efforts would
focus on providing social and economic support
to banana farmers and farm workers affected by
trade preference erosion.


The European Commission releases biennial
reports on the work of the SFA programme. Its
most recent assessment of the SFA was released
in December 2006 (European Commission, 2006).
According to this report, the SFA appears to have
had some success in assisting banana producers in
becoming more competitive. In countries where
banana production was increasing or stable, as
was the case for Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon, the
SFA has strengthened productivity and reduced
costs (European Commission, 2006, 12). The SFA
was also successful in accreditation efforts for
producers in Belize, Jamaica and Cameroon.
In all three countries, the SFA supported
producers in meeting EurepGAP (now GlobalGap)
and ISO14001 standards. Besides improving
productivity on banana farms, SFA support was
also used to improve working conditions in
banana plantations.


Support for diversification and other social
initiatives associated with the contraction
of banana production are, according to the
biennial report, more difficult to assess given the
longer time frame of these projects (European
Commission, 2006). In terms of the social impact
the report makes the somewhat tentative
statement that the “diversification activities
under the SFA seem to have had a social impact,
as the social projects and infrastructures they
financed aimed to improve the living conditions
of the population affected by the decline of
the banana sector” (European Commission,
2006, 14).


The SFA programme has come under considerable
scrutiny and criticism in the last year.
With regard to its programmes for assisting
competitive banana producers, the evidence is
vague and there is little detail on the scale and
extent of the impact. It may be that it is more


2.6. EU Policy Response in the Banana Sector: Assessment and
Options for Future Support




20 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


difficult to assess the impact of SFA support for
producers that are already competitive in export
markets. A more recent unpublished review of
the SFA has been described as “half-hearted”
and provides no recommendations on how the
programme could be improved. In terms of the
diversification initiatives, it is worrying that the
report is so hesitant on the impact of the SFA’s
diversification programmes which it claims can
only be assessed in the long term.


SFA support also seemed to have missed
opportunities where it could have made a
substantial impact. Since the Windward Islands
were considered to be uncompetitive in world
markets, support for banana producers and
farm workers shifted to diversification efforts.
In 1999 and 2000, all four of the Windward
Islands received support for technical assistance
in banana production. From 2001 to 2006, only
St Lucia received funding for improving
productivity and only for the year 2005
(European Commission, 2006). The period after
2001 coincides with the growth of fair trade
production from the Windward Islands, but the
SFA played no role in this strategy despite the fact
that one of its mandates is to support farmers
attempting to break into niche markets. Indeed,
the biennial report notes that “the Windward
banana sector remains present on specific EC
markets” and that a “key element of this relative
success of the Windward Islands strategy for their
banana sector has been its orientation towards
the fair trade market” (European Commission,
2006, 13). A recommendation from this biennial


report is that the “SFA draw lessons from other
relatively successful experiences, such as the
Windward conversion to the fair trade market,
as an opportunity for smaller scale enterprises to
survive in global market competition” (European
Commission, 2006, 14).


The lack of support provided by the SFA to
Windward Island banana producers involved in
supplying fair trade markets is unfortunate. It
may be that the structure of the programme
is partly to blame. Funding through the SFA is
driven by producing countries which are required
to present proposals for support. In the 2006
biennial report the reasons for not supporting
banana producers in the Windward Islands is
that “so far no project has been put forward to
directly support that aspect of their strategy”
(European Commission, 2006, 13). Yet it also
needs to be acknowledged that the Windward
Islands were considered uncompetitive banana
producers, which led to all support being shifted
to diversification efforts.


The SFA could have played an important role in
assisting producers in their efforts to supply fair
trade markets. Fair trade producers tend to be
more successful when they are organisationally
strong. This may be why the recommendations
that emerged from the assessment of the SSA
support programme focused on the need to
support the efforts of farmers attempting to
supply niche markets and industry structures
and organisations (Hubbard et al, 2000).


Support is needed for producers in their efforts
to supply fair trade markets. There is scope
for assisting banana producers in their efforts to
participate successfully in fair trade markets and
other luxury markets (e.g. organics). The role of
the SFA is significant here. The SFA should assist in
the process of certification and in strengthening
industry structures. This would mean working
in conjunction with industry representatives,
growers and even the UK-based supermarkets
that have shown their commitment to fair trade
banana production. While this approach goes
against the concern that supporting fair trade


producers might somehow “crowd out” private
sector initiatives,12 it recognises the challenges
facing banana producers in a fair trade market.


Deepen and thicken marketing campaigns for
banana producers affected by preference
erosion. There is consensus that although the
market for fair trade bananas is growing rapidly,
competition within the sector is also increasing.
The growing range of certified products supplied
by both smallholder-organised farmers and
larger enterprises also raises the potential for
confusion amongst consumers. The supply of


2.7. Recommendations




21ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


fair trade bananas, for example, comes from
both high cost producers in the Caribbean and
low cost producers in Latin America and Africa.
Marketing efforts should focus on drawing
connections between producers and consumers
in Europe, and especially the United Kingdom. A
description of fair trade producers in Dominica
that appeared in The Observer provides an
example of what is possible: “And Dominica is
precisely the sort of place that ethically minded
British consumers would like to think their
bananas came from. They are grown on small
family farms, where workers are reasonably
remunerated, protected by well-observed labour
laws”.13 Support should be provided to industry
players to highlight the distinctiveness of their
fairly traded product.


More effective and targeted efforts towards
those who have experienced social dislocation
as a result of the contraction of the banana


export sector. The diversification support
for farmers and farm workers affected by the
contraction of the banana sector appears to
have little or no impact. While it is important
to acknowledge the problems in establishing
sustainable diversification efforts, especially
in small island economies, the European
Commission needs to urgently address the
apparent lack of success in this area. A more
comprehensive assessment of the diversification
efforts is a first step in this direction. A second
step is to develop effective diversification plans
for banana exporting countries affected by trade
preference erosion.


Urgent assistance to banana farmers
affected by Hurricane Dean. Hurricane Dean
has destroyed banana production in several
Caribbean banana exporting countries. The SFA
should urgently support efforts to rehabilitate
banana farms affected by the hurricane.


The changing trade regime for bananas over
the last 15 years has exposed differences in
production efficiency within the ACP group of
countries. High cost producers, particularly in
the Caribbean, have not been able to maintain
production in the face of lower costs and more
intense competition in the EU market. Lower
cost ACP exporters in the Caribbean and in Africa
have been able to increase their share of the
ACP quota despite higher competition in the EU
banana market.


Banana exports are concentrated with five large
trans-national banana exporters controlling
most of the trade. Despite this, the value chain
is becoming increasingly buyer-driven with
supermarket retailers now dictating terms. The
trans-nationals are now repositioning themselves
as preferred suppliers to supermarkets. The shift
to a buyer-driven chain has opened the way for
new initiatives including fair trade and other
niche markets.


EU support for banana producers has been in
place for more than a decade. The initial efforts
focused on supporting all banana producers in
their efforts to become more competitive.
After 2001 banana exporters considered to


be uncompetitive were provided support for
diversification away from banana production.
The track record of support for banana producers
is very uneven. While there appears to have
been some success in improving the efficiency
of competitive banana producers, the results of
the diversification efforts are tentative at best.
The programme also failed to support banana
producers supplying fair trade markets. The
lessons of the support system to ACP banana
producers should inform current efforts to assist
ACP sugar exporters.


In smaller banana-producing countries attempts
to improve competitiveness have focused on fair
trade and other speciality markets, which are
being supported through supermarket retailers
and fair trade organisations. The role of EU
support mechanisms in these developments has
been very limited. While the market for fair trade
bananas has grown quickly in the last decade,
value chain analysis has revealed the increasing
competition within this market niche. Moreover,
the barriers to entry in speciality markets can
be high, which may restrict participation by
smallholders. NGOs and EU-funded agencies can
play an important role in supporting smallholder
banana exporters in this market.


2.8. Conclusion




22 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


Agritrade (2007). “Banana: Executive Brief.”
Agritrade. Obtained at: http://agritrade.cta.int


Anderson, R., Taylor, T. G. and Josling, T. (2003).
“The Caribbean and the Banana Trade” in Banana
Wars: The Anatomy of a Trade Dispute. Josling,
T. and Taylor, T. G. (eds.). CABI Publishing.
Wallingford, United Kingdom.


Arias, P., Dankers, C., Liu, P. and Pilauskas, P.
(2003). The World Banana Economy 1985-2002.
Food and Agriculture Organization. Rome. Italy.


Banana Link (2006). Banana Trade News Bulletin.
No. 34-35, January 2006.


Brenes, E.R. and Madrigal, K. (2003). “Banana
Trade in Latin America” in Banana Wars: The
Anatomy of a Trade Dispute. Josling, T. and
Taylor, T. G. (eds.). CABI Publishing. Wallingford,
United Kingdom.


Chambron, A-C. (2000). Straightening the
Bent World of Bananas. EFTA. Maastricht. The
Netherlands.


Chiquita (2006). Annual Report 2006.


Del Monte (2006). Annual Report 2006.


Dole (2005). Anniversary Booklet. Dole Food
Company.


European Commission (2006). “Biennial Report
on the Special Framework of Assistance for
Traditional ACP Suppliers of Bananas.” COM
(2006) 806. Brussels. Belgium.


Fairtrade (2004). Fair Trade Bananas Impact
Study. Fair Trade Foundation. London. United
Kingdom.


FAO (2003). “Organic and Fair Trade Bananas
and Environmental and Social Certification
in the Banana Sector.” Paper prepared for
the Committee on Commodity Problems,
Intergovernmental Group on Bananas and on
Tropical Fruit, 11-15 December 2003. Puerto de
la Cruz. Spain.


Fyffes (2006). Annual Report, 2006. Fyffes, UK.


Gibbon, P. (2006). “Current Trends and the
New Developmental Role of Commodities.”
Commodity Issues Series. Common Fund for
Commodities. The Netherlands.


Gillson, I., Hewitt, A. and Page, S. (2005).
“Forthcoming Changes in the EU Banana
and Sugar Markets: A Menu of Options for an
Effective EU Transitional Package.” Policy Brief,
Overseas Development Institute. London. United
Kingdom.


Hubbard, H., Herbert, A. and Romain de la
Touche, Y. (2000). “Evaluation of EU Assistance
to ACP Banana Producers.” Final Report, EVA-EU
Association. Taastrup. Denmark.


La Cruz, G. (2006). “The Contribution of Fair Trade
towards Market Access by Smallholder Banana
Producers”, in Agro-food Chains and Networks
for Development. Ruben, R., Slingerland, M.,
and Nijhoff, H. Wageningen Ur Frontis Series.
Springer-Verlag New York, United States.


Liddell, I. (2000). Unpeeling the Banana
Trade. Fair Trade Foundation. London. United
Kingdom.


Moberg, M. (2005). “Fair Trade and Eastern
Caribbean Banana Farmers: Rhetoric and Reality
in the Anti-Globalization Movement.” Human
Organization 64(1), 4-15.


Murray, D.L. and Raynolds, L.T. (2000).
“Alternative Trade in Bananas: Obstacles and
Opportunities for Progressive Social Change in
the Global Economy”. Agriculture and Human
Values 17, 65-74.


NERA/OPM (2004). “Addressing the impact of
preference erosion in bananas on Caribbean
countries.” Report for Department of
International Development. United Kingdom.


Oxfam (2007). Fair Trade Banana Farmers will
need a Year to Recover from Hurricane Dean,
Oxfam press office. Obtained at: www.oxfam.
org.uk/applications/blogs/pressoffice/2007/09/
windward_island_fair_trade_ban.html, accessed
13 October 2007.


PASS (2004). Impact of Preference Erosion
in Bananas, PASS Summary of Key Findings.
Programme of Advisory and Support Services
to Department of International Development.
United Kingdom.


Sheller, M. (2005). “The Ethical Banana: Markets,
Migrants and the Globalisation of a Fruit”. Paper


2.9. References




23ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


presented to the Science and Technology Studies
visiting speaker series: globalization in practice.
Said Business School. University of Oxford.
United Kingdom.


Shreck, A. (2002). “Just Bananas? Fair Trade
Banana Production in the Dominican Republic”.
International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture
and Food 10(2), 13-23.


Shreck, A. (2005). “Resistance, Redistribution
and Power in the Fair Trade Banana Initiative”.
Agriculture and Human Values 22, 17-29.


Tallontire, A. and Vorley, B. (2005). Achieving
Fairness in Trading between Supermarkets and
their Agrifood Supply Chains. UK Food Group
Briefing. London. United Kingdom.


Taylor, T. (2003). “Evolution of the Banana
Multinationals” in Banana Wars: The Anatomy of
a Trade Dispute, Josling, T. and Taylor, T. (eds).
CABI Publishing. Wallingford, United Kingdom.


UK Parliament (2007). Select Committee on
European Scrutiny, Special Framework Assistance
for Traditional Suppliers of Bananas, 2 April 2007.
United Kingdom.


UNCTAD (2003). Major Developments and
Recent Trends in International Banana Marketing
Structures. United Nations Conference on Trade
and Development, UNCTAD/DITC/COM/2003/1.
Geneva. Switzerland.


Van de Kasteele, A and van der Stichele, M. (2005).
“Update on the Banana Chain.” International
Banana Conference II, Preparatory papers.


Vanzetti, D., Fernandez de Cordoba, S. and Chau,
V (2005). “Banana Split: How EU Policies Divide
Global Producers.” Policy Issues in International
Trade and Commodities, Study Series No.
31. United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development. Geneva. Switzerland.


Vidal, J (2007). “Saving St Lucia: UK Supermarket
Sweeps up 100m Bananas”. Guardian Unlimited,
26 February 2007.


Wilson, N. (1996). “Supply Chain Management:
A Case Study of a Dedicated Supply Chain for
Bananas in the UK Grocery Market”. Supply
Chain Management 1(2), 28-35.


Windward Islands (2007). Windward Islands
Banana Exports. Windwards Bananas.




24 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


The institutional price of sugar on the EU market
has dominated the policy debate on the reform of
the EU’s sugar regime and its impact on African,
Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) sugar exporters.
Over the next four years the reference price
of sugar in the EU market is set to decrease
progressively from its current level of €523 to
€335 per tonne, a total decline of 36 percent.
Most analysts predict further decreases in the
price of sugar after 2013 linked to the unfolding
of the reform process (Agritrade, 2008). Indeed,
there are expectations that the world price
of sugar and the EU price will be roughly the
same in 2015. The lower price of sugar in the
short and medium term will affect all ACP sugar
exporting countries, especially given the very
large difference between the current EU and
world price of sugar. Most estimates suggest
that the decline between now and the 2009/10
season could lead to a loss of €470 million for
ACP sugar exporters (Milner et al, 2004; Chaplin
and Matthews, 2005).


The lower reference price for sugar in the EU
has led to a large number of studies that have
modelled future market equilibrium prices and
their impact on individual ACP countries exporting
sugar to the EU. These analyses typically
categorise ACP countries as either “competitive”
or “not competitive” based on an analysis of
production costs relative to the world’s most
efficient producers (e.g. Brazil) and future EU
sugar prices (LMC/OPM, 2003). ACP countries that
are found to be “not competitive”, according to
most reports, should be supported in diversifying
their economies out of sugar while those that are
likely to be competitive in a reformed trading
environment should be supported in their efforts
to become more efficient in a more competitive
global market.


The European Community’s support programme
for ACP sugar exporting countries was released
in 2005 (European Commission, 2005). The
EC’s “action plan” follows a similar approach:
countries that are found to be competitive sugar


producers based on an “objective assessment”
of their industries will be supported in their
efforts to become more competitive. On the
other hand, ACP sugar exporters with high cost
structures will be supported in diversifying out
of sugar production through broadly supported
development initiatives.


One of the possible consequences of the reform
process is the concentration of sugar production
among a smaller number of ACP countries with
more competitive cost structures. ACP sugar
exporters with higher cost structures are likely
to struggle in the new environment unless they
receive considerable assistance from their
respective governments. Several countries
may be forced to abandon sugar production
altogether and will need to find alternative
economic activities, which the EU will support.
More efficient ACP sugar exporters will also be
affected by lower prices, but they can compensate
for this loss by increasing production volumes.
Overall the impact may lead to a smaller number
of relatively larger and more competitive ACP
sugar exporting countries.


The complexity of the EU’s sugar regime and
its relationship to world markets means that
there is considerable uncertainty on the future
price of sugar in EU and world markets, which
is so central to most analyses of the impact of
trade reform on ACP sugar exporting countries.
The price of sugar in the medium and long
term depends on the magnitude of reform in
the EU, which is by no means certain, and the
response of global exporters and investors to
possible increases in world sugar prices. Part
of the problem in forecasting future prices, as
Milner et al (2004, 804) have argued, is that the
EU’s sugar regime is undergoing partial reform:
“for partial reforms there is greater ambiguity
depending on how the reforms affect the world
price and the EU intervention price, on the
relative importance of exports to the EU and
non-EU markets for each of the countries and
on the relative elasticities of export supply to


3. EU SUGAR REFORM, ACP SUGAR EXPORTERS
AND THE EU’S ACTION PLAN


3.1. Introduction




25ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


the (higher price) EU market and (lower price)
non-EU market”. The use of sugar by-products
for the bio-fuels sector and for electricity
cogeneration is additional variables that
complicate forecasts of sugar prices.


This chapter provides an analysis of the
reform process on ACP sugar producers and an
assessment of the EU’s support programme.
The global production and trade of sugar is


described and the most recent figures on
production and export are assessed. The
global value chain for sugar is examined and
recent changes in the chain are explored.
The chapter then examines the reform of the
EU’s sugar regime, its impact on ACP sugar
exporters and the EU’s support programme.
The recommendations focus on the EU’s action
plan and ways that it might be strengthened to
support ACP sugar exporters.


The largest producers of sugar are India,
the European Union and Brazil. These three
countries produced around 14 percent of world
production between 1999 and 2001 (Mitchell,
2004). About a third of world sugar production
is traded. The largest exporters in volume terms
are Brazil, the EU, Australia, Thailand, Cuba,
South Africa and Colombia. Exports from these
seven countries represented almost 80 percent
of all sugar exports (USDA, 2007). The Russian
Federation is the largest importer of sugar: it
consumes around 14 percent of total sugar
exports. The pattern of global imports after
Russia is highly dispersed primarily because
many countries produce some sugar from either


sugar cane or sugar beet (Figure 3.1).14 The most
significant change in the global trade of sugar is
the European Union’s shift from an importer of
sugar in the 1960s to the second most important
exporter of sugar.


The most recent figures for production and
exports show that world sugar production for
the 2007/8 marketing year will be 163 million
tonnes. The increases in global production and
trade are due primarily to Brazil, India, China
and Thailand. Exports are predicted to exceed
50 million tonnes for the first time (USDA, 2007).
The largest exporters are Brazil (21.8 million
tonnes), Thailand (4.5 million tonnes), Australia


3.2 Global Production, Trade and Prices


Figure 3.1: World Sugar Exports in 2005


Source: Comtrade




26 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


(4.1 million tonnes) and India (2.5 million tonnes).
These figures show two important changes from
the situation that prevailed in the early 2000s:
first, Brazil is strengthening its position as the
largest exporter with almost 43 percent of the
global trade of sugar, up from an average of
24 percent in the period between 1999 and
2001. A second new development has been the
rise of India as an important exporter of sugar
(USDA, 2007). A number of African, Caribbean
and Pacific countries are involved in the export
of sugar. Although the volumes traded by this
group of countries are not significant in global
terms, these exports are very important for
export earnings and employment.


Estimates are that 80 percent of world sugar
production and 60 percent of trade is supported
through subsidies and price controls. World
sugar prices have been shaped by these domestic
support systems. Apart from two spikes in sugar
prices in the mid-1970s and the early 1980s,
sugar prices have shown a long-term decline.
Sugar prices spiked again in 2006/7, but have
since followed the more typical pattern of
long-term decline. In real terms, sugar prices
have declined by around half since 1950
(Mitchell, 2005).


Key changes in sugar production
and trade:


Changes in EU production and trade. From the
longer-term perspective, the most important


change in the global trade of sugar has been the
rise of the EU as a producer and later an exporter
of sugar. Increases in the production and export
of sugar have strongly influenced world markets,
but have provided important preferences for
ACP sugar exporters.


Brazil’s sugar production. The production of
sugar in Brazil continues to exceed industry
forecasts. The most recent figures suggest this
country is now responsible for 43 percent of
exports, which is a dramatic increase since the
early 2000s. The role of Brazil in world sugar
markets as the EU reform process unfolds is
uncertain given the growth of the bio-fuels
sector (OECD-FAO, 2007). If the bio-fuels sector
absorbs large volumes of Brazilian sugar cane,
it may lead to relatively higher sugar prices on
global markets in the longer term. If, however,
Brazilian production continues to grow and
there is a lower than expected demand from
the bio-fuels sector, Brazil’s exports will have
a very profound impact on world markets given
its status as the world’s most competitive sugar
cane producer.


Rise of India. India is very rapidly becoming an
important player in the global market for sugar.
India’s production has increased from 1.4 million
tonnes in 2006 to an estimated 2.5 million tonnes
in 2007. New investments in refining facilities are
ongoing and these will increase India’s ability to
export refined sugar.15


The global value chain for sugar is complicated
by the fact that refined sugar is derived from two
products, sugar cane and sugar beet. Sugar cane
is produced in tropical and subtropical climates
and sugar beet is produced in temperate climates.
The process of deriving refined sugar from these
two commodities is also different. While sugar
beets can be processed into sugar directly, sugar
cane must be milled into raw sugar before it can
be refined into sugar products that are fit for
human consumption (Figure 3.2).


With regard to competitiveness between the
different production systems, sugar beet


producers tend to have a much higher cost
structure than sugar cane producers. There are,
nonetheless, considerable differences in terms
of production costs within the sugar beet and
sugar cane sectors. In the European Union, high
levels of support for sugar beet producers have
encouraged production in marginal areas with
high costs (Gillison et al, 2005). In the sugar
cane sector Brazil is widely recognised to have
the lowest production costs, thanks in large
part to the scale of sugar cane plantations,
and the low cost of land and labour. Indeed,
Brazil’s production costs are usually used as
a benchmark to assess other countries’ cost


3.3. The Global Value Chain for Sugar




27ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


structure. Within the ACP group of countries
there are significant differences in production
costs. While several ACP countries are among
the most competitive in the world, a large group
of ACP countries have very high cost structures
(LMC/OPM, 2003). Although it is not always the
case, many of the less competitive producers
are characterised by state owned processing
facilities and smallholder sugar cane growers
(e.g. Fiji and Jamaica).


In ACP countries sugar cane is produced on
large-scale plantations and on smallholder
farms. The supply of sugar is usually regulated
through contractual agreements between
processing companies and growers. In Southern
Africa sugar mills rely on both large scale and
small-scale producers, although the former
tend to supply significantly larger volumes of
cane (Sandrey and Vink, 2007). The number of
smallholder sugar cane producers in Southern
Africa is, nonetheless, very large and sugar
plays an important role in the livelihoods of
many rural people in South Africa, Malawi,
Zambia and Mozambique. Smallholder farmers
in this region are usually supported by the mills
who provide credit and extension support.
In some countries, the sugar cane mills also


provide a range of social services including
schools and health clinics. In Fiji and in most of
the Caribbean, sugar cane is produced largely
by the smallholder sector on farms that are
between one and four hectares in size.


Unlike other globally traded commodities (e.g.
bananas) the key players in the sugar sector –
processors and refiners – are not organised on a
global scale. In both developed and developing
regions, processors and refiners usually have a
national presence with sugar exports controlled
by a single desk company or organisation (Garside
et al, 2005; Bureau et al, 2007). In most countries,
processing and refining is highly concentrated.
In the last decade the level of concentration in
the European Union appears to be increasing:
according to an Oxfam report, the number of
processors and refining companies decreased by
a third between 1989 and 1999. In eight of the
14 EU-member countries, one company controlled
the sugar beet quota (Oxfam, 2002). In the
developing world, the concentration of processing
is equally high and sugar processing and refining is
either owned by the state or by one or two large
privately owned companies. In the last decade the
pressure to liberalise markets has led to the sale
of some former state owned sugar processors.


Figure 3.2: Sugar Production Chain


Source: Compiled from Garside et al, 2005


Processing


Refining


Sugar Beet
Production


Sugar Cane
Production


White Sugar
Exports to


World Markets


Raw Sugar
Exports


(Traders and
Shippers)


Milling
(Raw Sugar)


Co-generation /
Bio-fuels


Cristal Sugar
(Brazil)


Molasses
(Rum)


White Sugar
Exports to


World Markets


Industrial Exports
(furfuryl alcohol,


ethyl alcohol
and lactulose)


Food Processors
(e.g. drinks and dry
foods)
Retailers
Industrial users


Food Processors
(e.g. drinks and dry
foods)
Retailers
Industrial uses


LOCATION:
EU and Other
Temperate
Climates


LOCATION:
ACP / and
Other Tropical /
Subtropical
Climates




28 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


Regional and international investments by large
transnational companies involved in several
stages of the sugar value chain represent a more
significant development in the sugar sector.
Many of these investments are a response to
the liberalisation of the EU’s sugar regime and
the growing importance of the bio-fuels sector.
At the global scale transnational companies like
Cargill, Tate & Lyle and ED&F Man have invested
in sugar refining and biofuels manufacturing in
Africa, Latin America and Asia. At a regional
scale, South Africa’s largest sugar companies,
Illovo and Tongaat-Hullets, have made very
large investments in Mozambique, Tanzania
and Malawi (Garside et al, 2005). These
three countries fall into the category of least
developed countries and have access to the EU’s
“Everything But Arms” (EBA) trade arrangement.
South Africa’s third largest sugar processor (Tsb
Sugar) also has regional aspirations, but was
unsuccessful in its efforts to purchase the state
owned Ugandan sugar processing company.
Associated British Food’s (ABF) acquisition of
a controlling share of Illovo in 2007 suggests
that European food manufacturers are also
responding to the EU’s changing trade regime for
sugar. By purchasing Illovo, ABF now has access
to an important source of EBA sugar. Another
European processor that has invested in Africa
is the French based sugar processor Tereos. The
company has purchased a 50 percent stake in
the Mozambican Marromeu sugar factory. There
is an equally dynamic change occurring in the
bio-fuels market where companies like ABF and
Cargill are making investments in ethanol plants
in large sugar producing countries like Brazil.


The value chain for sugar is clearly in a state
of considerable flux, but largely in response to
changes in the EU’s sugar regime. While powerful
buyers are restructuring the production chain


for other commodities, in the sugar sector trade
reform and the potential of the bio-fuels industry
is playing a more important role in shaping new
patterns of investment and chain restructuring.


Key developments in the value chain:


Smallholders. A significant aspect of the sugar
chain is the contribution of smallholders to global
sugar cane production. In most ACP countries a
proportion of the sugar milled by processors is
produced on a small scale. Smallholders tend
to produce under contract and the mills often
support them through credit and extension
services or in some cases through schools and
health clinics.


Concentration in processing. There is evidence
that the sugar processing and refining node of
the chain is becoming more concentrated. This
may be a process that has been occurring over
some time and it remains to be seen whether
the process of trade reform will intensify the
concentration in processing.


International investments. Sugar processing and
refining companies have tended to restrict their
operations to within national borders. Although
refiners in the EU have always been involved
in sourcing raw sugar cane internationally and
exporting it to other countries as refined sugar,
their processing operations have tended to be
nationally based. The same is true of developing
country processors. The reform of the EU trade
regime and the rise of the bio-fuel sector is
leading to new investments within regions (e.g.
Southern Africa) and internationally. These new
investments point to a possible realignment of
power in the chain away from nationally-based
processors towards large transnational companies
involved in several stages of the chain and in a
range of different sugar-based products.


The European Union’s Common Market
Organisation (CMO) for sugar regulates the
production, export and import of sugar products
through a range of subsidies, quotas and price
supports. For sugar producers within the
European Union – who produce sugar from beet
– the regime has led to significant increases


in production and, since the 1980s, in exports
(Bureau et al, 2007). The EU is now the world’s
second largest exporter of sugar. At the same
time, because of the preferences provided to
other sugar producers, who produce sugar from
cane, the EU is also the world’s second largest
importer of sugar. This somewhat anomalous


3.4. European Union’s Common Market Organisation for Sugar




29ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


situation (Chaplin and Matthews, 2005) has had
important implications for the world’s sugar
market. Prices for sugar in the EU are three
times higher than world prices, which is an
important issue for those countries that have had
access to this market through preferential trade
agreements. Countries that are not beneficiaries
of the EC’s CMO have also been affected in that
the large volume of subsidised sugar exports
from the EU has depressed world market prices
for sugar (Gibb, 2004; Garside et al, 2005). The
reform of the CMO is likely to have complex and
unpredictable results given uncertainties in the
pace of reform in the long term, its impact on
world sugar prices and the response of other
low cost (current and potential) exporters to
new market opportunities.16 Another important
variable is the impact of the bio-fuels sector
on sugar consumption and production. These
uncertainties are difficult to model using general
equilibrium models, which are often used to
predict the future price of sugar.


Critics of the EU sugar regime contend that
reform was necessary to remove distortions in
the world sugar market, the worst being that
prices for sugar in the EU were three times higher
than world prices. The European Commission
itself has argued that the reform was essential
because the price the EU and its consumers paid
for sugar was three times the world price and
that the price cuts would bring down prices to
more competitive levels and benefit European
consumers. The ACP countries, on the other
hand, as beneficiaries of preferential prices in
the EU sugar market through the Sugar Protocol,
argued that the world price does not represent
true value and should not be the benchmark
against which to measure efficiency in sugar
production, since the world price derives from
a market of last resort for the disposal of the
surplus production of large sugar producers,
often resulting in an artificially low world price
(Insanally, 2005). By the time EU sugar reform
was implemented in July 2006 the EU sugar price
was no longer three times the world price.


The EU has three trade preference systems for
developing country sugar exporters. The first is
the Sugar Protocol, which provides ACP countries
a specific duty-free quota of exports to the


EU. The volume that individual countries are
permitted to export to the EU under the protocol
was determined on the basis of historical supply
patterns between individual countries and sugar
refineries in the United Kingdom. The result is
that three countries (Mauritius, Fiji and Guyana)
have over 62 percent of the total sugar protocol
quota. A further 15 ACP countries and India are
allocated smaller, yet nonetheless significant
portions of the 1.3 million tonne quota of sugar
(Table 3.1).


There are two important points regarding the
price of sugar for ACP exporters. The first is
that the protocol was drawn up in the early
1970s, which was a period of high sugar prices.
The negotiated sugar price for ACP exporters
has continued to reflect this high price despite
the rapid decline in world sugar prices due to
larger volumes of exports by both Brazil and
the European Union (Goodison, 2007). A second
aspect of the protocol related to prices is the
limited potential for competition between ACP
countries. The sugar protocol quotas prevent
EU-based refiners from establishing agreements
with individual countries: “refiners are limited
in their ability to manipulate prices through
agreements with individual countries since
trade with one country cannot be substituted
with that from another without compromising
the total volume imported into the EU” (Chaplin
and Matthews, 2005, 3).


The Special Preferential Sugar (SPS) system is a
second preferential trade agreement that allows
ACP sugar exporters access to the lucrative
European Union sugar market. The purpose of
the SPS was to meet the requirements of French,
Finnish, Portuguese and UK sugar refineries for
additional volumes of raw sugar, which were
not being met through the sugar protocol. The
quotas under the SPS are allocated to individual
countries and refineries within these countries
(Table 3.1). The total quota for ACP countries has
varied between 200,000 and 350,000 tonnes since
SPS was established in the mid-1990s. Exporters
under the SPS are not subject to any duties for raw
sugar cane. The price paid to exporters is slightly
lower than the guaranteed price for preferential
sugar exports to the European Union.




30 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


The most recent trade preference system in
the European Union is the “Everything But
Arms” (EBA) protocol. This new initiative was
introduced in 2001 and will eventually allow 49
least developed countries (LDCs) duty-free and
quota-free access to the EU market. Full market
access is provided in a graduated fashion:
custom duties for sugar exports will decrease
from 20 to 80 percent between 2006 and 2008.
Quotas for LDC sugar exporters started at 71
thousand tonnes in 2001/2 and the quota has
been increasing by 15 percent a year. In July
2009, all custom duties and quota restrictions
for LDC sugar exports to the European Union will
be removed (UNCTAD, 2005).


In the last five years there have been several
attempts to forecast the response of LCD
countries to the EBA trade preference system.
The more conservative estimates tend to
suggest that the response will be limited to
between 300,000 and 500,000 tonnes above the
current quota (van Berkum et al, 2005; Conforti
and Rapsomanikis, 2006). These analysts
stress the significant obstacles many LDC
countries will face including a poor transport


infrastructure, limited capital for investments
in new production and processing facilities,
and limited resource endowments. Chaplin
and Matthews (2005) argue that since most
LDC countries are net importers of sugar, the
supply response is likely to be limited. They do,
nonetheless, consider the possibility that LDC
producers will divert local production to the
more lucrative export market and import sugar
at the much lower world price. The European
Union’s own estimates are far more optimistic:
the EU has predicted that total exports under
the EBA system could reach 3 million tonnes by
2011. One of the difficulties of estimating the
response by LDC countries is the absence of more
detailed national and regional analyses of the
real potential for sugar production and export
(Conforti and Rapsomanikis, 2006). Several
Southern African countries – including Malawi,
Tanzania and Mozambique – are well placed to
take advantage of the EBA scheme (Sandrey and
Vink, 2007). Indeed, Mozambique has become
an exporter of sugar since the establishment of
the EBA thanks to considerable investment by
South African-based sugar processing industries
(Malzbender, 2003). Ethiopia and Sudan are


Table 3.1: Tariff Rate Quotas for the EU Market, 2003 (tonnes)


Source: LMC/OPM 2003


Country Sugar Protocol SPS EBA
Côted’Ivoire 11,072 11,470


Madagascar 11,696 4,710 4,140
Malawi 22,636 12,097 5,269
Mauritius 533,751 53,180
Republic of Congo 11,072 4,076
Swaziland 128,098 39,551
Tanzania 11,072 4,676 4,217
Zambia 0 11,672 4,209
Zimbabwe 32,855 28,955
Barbados 54,689 5,449
Belize 43,859 4,370
Guyana 173,279 17,265
Jamaica 129,023 12,855
St Kitts & Nevis17 16,947 1,689
Trinidad & Tobago 47,557 4,738
Fiji 179,733 17,908




31ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


The process of reforming the EU’s sugar sector
has its roots in the early 1990s and the broader
debates on the reform of the Common Agricultural
Policy (Goodison, 2007). Yet it was only in 2005
that agreement was reached on the process of
reforming the Common Market Organisation for
sugar. By this time the EU had lost its case and
its appeal against a complaint filed at the World
Trade Organization (WTO) by five sugar-exporting
countries. The complaint concerned the EU’s
practice of subsidising sugar exports, including
a large volume of sugar that it re-exported.
The need to reform the CMO was also hastened
by the EBA preference system, which allowed
unrestricted access to EU markets by least
developed countries. Although the impact of
exports from LDC countries is likely to be limited
in the short term, investments by processors in
Southern Africa and elsewhere suggested that
the EBA process could have a significant impact
on the EU sugar market.


The reform of the EU sugar sector does not
represent a full-scale liberalisation of the CMO.
Price controls will remain in place (until 2009/10)
and quotas, imports and exports will continue to
be regulated, although under WTO guidelines.
The reform process will instead change the
level of prices, total production volumes and
the volume of subsidized exports. With regard


to prices, these will decrease by 36 percent
over a four-year period (Table 3.2). Subsidized
exports from the EU to the rest of the world will
be limited to 1,273,500 tonnes of sugar following
WTO rulings (Agritrade, 2008). In order to manage
EU production and exports down to lower levels,
funds will be allocated for the restructuring or
closure of “less competitive” sugar processing
factories. Support will also be provided to
beet farmers interested in withdrawing from
production or in diversifying into other food
and fibre commodities. A total of €8 billion
has been set aside to support processors and
farmers interested in diversifying out of sugar or
discontinuing production.


One of the challenges of the reform process in the
EU is that it depends on industry players – farmers
and sugar processors – agreeing to use the funds
to restructure or withdraw from production. The
experience since 2005 has been disappointing
in that only a small proportion of the funds for
restructuring have been used (equivalent to
1.5 million tonnes of sugar), with the result that
the EU has had to deal with a sugar surplus of
around 4.5 million tonnes. In the 2007/8 season
the applications for withdrawal/diversification
fell to only 0.65 million tonnes, which has resulted
in a very large surplus of sugar in the EU.18


There have been several important developments
in the reform of the EU’s sugar regime during
2007. First, there has been a change to the
Special Preferential Sugar (SPS) arrangement.
Previously SPS quota figures were affected by the
size of the quotas granted under the EBA scheme.
In other words, a significant rise in the EBA quota
would result in a smaller quota for countries
supplying the EU with sugar through the SPS. The
EU has now decided to set specific SPS quotas
that are independent of the EBA (Table 3.3).
This new development has allayed the concern


3.5. Reforming the EU’s Common Market for Sugar


Table 3.2: Changes in Price for
ACP Raw Sugar


Source: Mitchell (2005)


Price % change
per tonne (culmulative)
Current €523.7


2006/7 €496.8 -5.1%


2007/8 €496.8 -5.1%


2008/9 €434.1 -17.1%


2009/10 €335.0 -36%


also LCD sugar producers and both have the
potential of benefiting in the long term from
the EBA initiative.


The European Commission has included a
safeguard mechanism in the event that LDC


country exports increase in a way that
“destabalises” the EU sugar market. Imports
from LDC countries will be subject to “review”
if they increase by more than 25 percent in a
single year.




32 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


that increases in EU sugar imports through the
“Everything But Arms” (EBA) scheme would
reduce the quota for exports through the SPS
mechanism. This new “complementary quota”
which will be in place until 2009 will mean that
low cost ACP non-LDC sugar producers will not be
affected by increases in EBA imports to the EU
(European Research Office, 2007).


A second development in the reform process
is related to the relationship between the ACP
sugar protocol and the Economic Partnership
Agreements (EPA) process. In late 2007 the
EC announced the end of the sugar protocol,
a decision that has angered the ACP group of
countries. The EC’s rationale for denouncing the
sugar protocol is based on its unwillingness to
provide different levels of access to countries
within EPAs, which would occur if the protocol
were maintained. In addition, the EC has
declared its unwillingness to guarantee prices
for ACP exporters but not for its own sugar


producers. The sugar protocol will, however,
remain in place until 1 October 2009.


The impact of the decision to remove the sugar
protocol combined with the new EPA agreements
is likely to further widen the gap between
competitive and less competitive sugar producers.
In the Caribbean EPA, for example, any unused
quota allocated to an individual sugar exporter
can be transferred to other sugar producers
within the CARIFORUM EPA. This is a significant
development given the decision by Trinidad &
Tobago and St Kitts & Nevis to withdraw from the
sugar export market. These unused quotas are
likely to be allocated to countries like Belize,
Guyana and the Dominican Republic, which are
more competitive sugar producers (Agritrade,
2008). The decision to renounce the sugar
protocol and the signing of EPAs is therefore
unlikely to change the overall impact of EU sugar
reform on ACP sugar exporters.


Table 3.3: ACP Special Preferential Sugar Arrangement (SPS) Access (tonnes)


Source: Agritrade (2008)


African Caribbean Pacific


Congo 4,985.2 Barbados 2,841.2 Fiji 19,181.8
Côted’Ivoire 10,000.0 Belize 4,985.2


Kenya 11,023.4 Guyana 19,931.7
Madagascar 2,550.0 Jamaica 15,926.8
Malawi 10,000.0 St Kitts & Nevis 1,831.3
Mauritius 41,980.1 Trinidad & Tobago 5,592.2
Swaziland 30,000.0
Tanzania 2,485.9
Zambia 12,731.5
Zimbabwe 25,000.0


The reform of the CMO sugar regime has led
to considerable discussion and debate on
the value of trade preferences to ACP Sugar
Protocol countries, and the potential impact of
a reformed system on the economies of these
countries. Most recently, it has led to proposals
within the European Commission on the measures
that should be put in place to mitigate the
potentially disruptive impact of trade reform
on the economies and societies of ACP countries


that have relied on preferential access to the EU
sugar market.


Assessing likely impact of trade reform is a
complex process and depends on the effectiveness
of the reform of the sugar regime in the EU,
changes in EU and world sugar prices, and the
response of low cost exporting countries to new
market opportunities in the wake of a more
liberal sugar market. Despite this uncertainty, it


3.6. Impact of the Reform on ACP Countries




33ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


is nonetheless possible to identify ACP countries
that are likely to be more vulnerable to lower
sugar prices in the EU market.


Garside et al (2005) identify two broad criteria
for assessing a sugar exporting country’s
vulnerability to changes in the EU sugar market.
First, sugar exporters that have a “lower quota
dependency” are likely to be more effective in
weathering lower prices. These are countries
that are not wholly dependent on preferential
access to EU or US markets. In addition, these
countries have options for diversification (e.g.
ethanol, bio-fuels, organic and fair trade sugar)
and have the potential to supply regional
markets. The second criterion is industry
“competitiveness”. This criterion refers to
production costs, but it also makes reference to
whether there is scope for expanded production
and the level of corporate ownership. Countries
that are competitive and with a “lower quota
dependency” are clearly in a very good position
to not only adapt to the new regime, but also
to take advantage of new opportunities that are
likely to arise in a reformed sugar regime.


Garside et al’s (2005) approach suggests that
in Africa, Malawi and Zambia are well placed
to benefit from the new trading environment.
Malawi exports to both the EU and the US and also
supplies markets in the Southern African region.
It is also diversified into speciality sugars: it
supplies Billington’s in the United Kingdom with
high quality fair trade sugar. Finally, production
costs in Malawi are among the lowest in the
world, which will shield the local industry from
lower prices in the EU market. While Zambia
is in an equally strong position in a reformed
sugar market, Mauritius is likely to face serious
challenges in an environment of lower EU sugar
prices. Not only does it have a very large sugar
protocol quota, but most of its sugar exports are
destined to preferential markets (EU and US).
Finally, production costs relative to other low
cost ACP exporters are very high. The Mauritius
government has recognised these problems and
has embarked on an extensive restructuring
programme to address the impact of preference
erosion. Swaziland’s future in sugar production
seems uncertain. Within the Southern African
region the country has a slightly higher cost


structure and it is relatively more dependent on
preferential markets. Goodison’s (2007) analysis
of sugar production in Swaziland suggests that
the impact of preference erosion over the longer
term is likely to have serious repercussions on
the industry.


In the Caribbean, Garside et al (2005) find that
only Guyana and Belize are likely to continue
sugar production for export in a reformed EU sugar
market. Production costs in these two Caribbean
countries are low and both have diversified
into other sugar markets.19 This assessment
is consistent with most other analyses of the
situation for sugar exporters in the Caribbean,
which find that production costs in Jamaica,
Trinidad and Tobago, and St Kitts are too high
to allow them to compete in a post-reform
sugar market (Mitchell, 2005). The situation in
many Caribbean countries is exacerbated by the
debt carried by many of the parastatal sugar
companies. As Mitchell (2005, 13) argues, debt
affects “competitiveness by increasing interest
costs, constraining equipment maintenance
and replacement, and limiting application of
production inputs such as fertilizer”.


Fiji is the only Pacific Island country considered
by Garside et al (2005) in their analysis of the
impact of preference erosion. Fiji’s sugar sector
is characterised by high costs of production and
a milling infrastructure that requires urgent
upgrading in order to produce sugar cane more
efficiently. Other reasons for the high costs of
production in Fiji include payment systems for
growers that do not reward quality, limited
use of fertilisers by smallholder farmers, high
freight and insurance costs, and higher labour
costs (Prasad and Akram-Lodhi, 1998).


The most widely cited analysis of the impact of
preference erosion on ACP sugar suppliers is the
LMC International/Oxford Policy Management
report (2003). The report focuses on the
profitability of sugar exports based on expected
production costs and market access. Their
analysis on the impact of preference erosion
is summarised by grouping countries into three
categories. In the first group of countries,
production remains profitable after preference
erosion based on the analysis of current costs or on




34 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


future costs following restructuring. The second
group of countries will not be competitive in a
reformed EU market and will need to restructure
“beyond their existing plans” (LMC/OPM 2003).
The third group of countries are, according to
the analysis, unlikely to be viable with lower EU
prices for sugar (Table 3.4).


A recent assessment of the impact of preference
erosion on sugar exporters is based on a


straightforward analysis of production and
transport costs relative to the pre-reform price,
the EU price in 2010 and a possible EU price
in 2015 that is likely to be very close to the
prevailing world price (Agritrade, 2008).21 While
this analysis seems to lack the sophistication
of other modelling approaches, it nonetheless
highlights how a very low EU/world price will
affect ACP producers. Only five countries – all


Table 3.4: Competitiveness of ACP Sugar Exporters


Source: LMC/OPM 2003


Group 1: Competitive based
on current costs or through
restructuring
Congo Br.
Malawi
Swaziland
Tanzania
Zambia
Zimbabwe


Group 2: Competitive
through restructuring
beyond their existing plans
Fiji
Guyana
Mauritius


Group 3: Not competitive


Barbados
Belize 20
Côted’Ivoire


Jamaica
Madagascar
St Kitts
Trinidad and Tobago


Table 3.5: Projected EU Sugar Prices and ACP Sugar Production Costs


Source: Agritrade (2008)


Country


Mozambique
Malawi
Zimbabwe
Swaziland
Zambia
Guyana
Mauritius
Belize
Fiji
Jamaica
Tanzania
Congo
Côted’Ivoire


Kenya
Madagascar
Barbados
St Kitts & Nevis
Trinidad & Tobago


Production
cost


(€/tonne)


141
141
158
176
141
211
229
211
229
264
211
229
264
264
317
352
440
440


Transport
costs


(€/tonne)


68
92
84
76
116
76
64
92
80
56
120
104
112
120
80
60
80
80


Total cost
(€/tonne)


209
233
242
252
257
287
293
303
309
320
331
333
376
384
397
412
520
520


Pre-reform
EU price
(€/tonne)


523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7
523.7


EU price
2010


(€/tonne)


335
335
335
335
335
335
335
335
335
335
335
335
335
335
335
335
335
335


Possible
2015 price
(€/tonne)


261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85
261.85




35ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


African – would be able to continue production at
a world price of €261.85 per tonne (Table 3.5). A
further seven ACP countries will be competitive
up to 2010, while six other countries are not
competitive at the current sugar protocol price
(Agritrade, 2008).


It is important to note that investment flows,
innovation and subsequent productivity gains
are not considered by the LMC report and
other forecasts on sugar prices and production
costs. These new investment patterns should
lead to productivity gains, which will influence
competitiveness, although how these will be
distributed across countries is very uncertain.


The social and economic impact of sugar trade
reform on less competitive ACP countries is
potentially very serious indeed. In Fiji, it is
estimated that there are approximately 21,000
sugar cane farmers and 14,000 sugar cane
cutters who are employed on a seasonal basis
(Chand 2004; Oxfam 2005a). In addition, there
are 3,000 workers in the country’s four sugar
cane processing factories. When these figures
are added to the number of people working in
enterprises that support the sugar cane sector,
the total number of people involved in the sugar
cane sector is estimated to be between 200,000
and 250,000 workers (Asian Development


Bank 2002). The importance of sugar to Fiji’s
economy is of great concern to those involved
in the sector (Reserve Bank of Fiji, 2005). In
the Caribbean, sugar generates an estimated
125,000 jobs and USD 300 million in foreign
exchange (McDonald, 2005).


For more competitive ACP producers like
Mozambique and Zambia the reform process
has the potential to create substantial
employment opportunities and new livelihoods
for smallholder farmers. Oxfam (2004) has
estimated that investment in the sugar
sector in these two countries could lead to
30,000 jobs being created. Since sugar
companies are frequently involved in providing
workers with access to health care and
education facilities, investment in sugar has the
potential for long-term development outcomes
for these countries.


The key impact of EU reform is the uneven
distributional effects it will have across ACP
countries. Most projections suggest that the
beneficiaries of the reform process are those
countries with lower cost structures. New
investments by transnational sugar companies
in the most competitive sugar producing nations
may further entrench the division between ACP
sugar producing countries.


The EU has committed itself to a “programme of
action” to assist ACP sugar exporters negatively
affected by preference erosion. It recognises the
likely impact of trade reform on ACP countries
and has declared its willingness to “support ACP
countries in their path to poverty reduction
and sustainable development” (European
Commission, 2005, 1). As was seen in the case of
support to ACP banana exporters, the assistance
has a trade as well as a development-assistance
component. The type of assistance “package”
provided to individual ACP countries – and
the balance between trade and development
assistance – will depend on “an objective
assessment of the constraints and potential of
the sugar sector, as well as of other alternative
economic sectors both within and outside of
agriculture” (European Commission 2005, 6, bold


in the original).22 To this end, support initiatives
should “strengthen” and “complement” existing
national development strategies and be pro-
poor in their focus (European Commission 2005).
Eighteen ACP countries are identified for support
(Table 3.6).


The trade component of the EC’s “programme
of action” for Sugar Protocol countries does
not outline specific support initiatives for
ACP sugar-exporting countries.23 Instead, the
document underlines the EC’s commitment to
ensuring that trade reform at the multilateral
and bilateral levels leads to economic growth
and poverty reduction.


The support for development assistance provides
more concrete measures for supporting ACP sugar


3.7. EU support for Preference Erosion in Sugar




36 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


exporters. Three axes of support are identified:
support to enhance the competitiveness of
the sugar sector; assistance in promoting
diversification in sugar areas; and support for
addressing broader adaptation needs (European
Commission 2005, 9). As noted earlier, the
criteria for supporting the sugar sector will
depend on the country’s “competitiveness gap”
and the extent to which the gap is a consequence
of structural problems that are unlikely to be
overcome through development assistance.
If a case can be made for sustainable sugar,
the support will take the form of assistance
in terms of production, chain coordination,
diversifying into value added products, and by
encouraging processing companies and farms to
adhere to corporate social responsibility (CSR)
standards. CSR standards “could be used by ACP
industries as a commercial asset, in particular
in … relations with certain European buyers”
(European Commission 2005, 10).


The EC acknowledges that the other two axes
of the programme of action – diversification
and broader adaptation – are potentially
more challenging, particularly for smaller


economies that are heavily dependent on
sugar for employment and export revenues.
Diversification should focus on identifying
market opportunities in sectors that offer lower
risk and price stability. Broader adaptation
support must focus on the social and economic
impacts of sugar sector downsizing or closure
on workers and farmers.


The EC’s action plan is clearest in terms of
the proposed measures to improve industry
competitiveness, but vague in its proposals for
diversification and adaptation (also see Oxfam
2005a). Those sectors that are found to be both
competitive and sustainable will be supported
through a range of very specific measures to
improve the efficiency of all aspects of sugar
production and processing. Yet the adaptation
and diversification measures provide very little
by way of concrete suggestions other than that
they should be pro-poor in their emphasis and
that they should address the likely social and
economic disruption associated with industry
downsizing or closure. Comparing this approach
to the support provided by the EC to ACP banana
exporters over the last decade is instructive.


The emphasis of the sugar action plan on an
“objective assessment” of competitiveness was
also used to structure support for ACP banana
exporters affected by trade preference erosion.
In the banana sector it resulted in a situation
where support was provided to ACP banana
exporters who were already competitive.
Supporting competitive ACP banana exporters
has made it very difficult to assess the real
impact of the EC’s support system. At the same
time, this approach led to the EU’s support
mechanism ignoring initiatives where it could
have made a significant difference to banana
producers who were undergoing a process
of restructuring in order to become more
competitive in niche banana markets (e.g. fair
trade, also see Chapter 2). The lesson here is
that an approach that is based on an ostensibly
objective assessment of a very dynamic market
environment is likely to overlook opportunities
where the programme of action can make a
significant difference to ACP sugar exporters.
The need for greater flexibility in the approach
to support is perhaps greatest where the sector


Table 3.6: EC Support for ACP Countries
Affected by Trade Preference
Erosion


Source: Agritrade (2008)


Country Budget(millionsof€)


Côted’Ivoire 13.467
Kenya 6.230
Madagascar 8.428
Malawi 9.911
Mauritius 127.541
Mozambique 6.0
Republic of Congo 6.245
Swaziland 69.895
Tanzania 6.0
Zambia 6.0
Zimbabwe 22.137
Barbados 34.667
Belize 45.147
Guyana 84.170
Jamaica 77.547
St Kitts & Nevis 74.286
Trinidad & Tobago 41.643
Fiji 60.024




37ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


plays a dominant role in terms of employment
and livelihoods. Within the sugar sector there
are options for diversification into other sugar
products and by-products including bio-fuels,
electricity co-generation and alcoholic drinks
like rum (e.g. Oxfam 2005b).


A second lesson that may be drawn from the
banana experience relates to programmes for
diversification. Independent assessments of the
support to ACP banana exporters found that
these efforts either had a limited impact or that
it is too early to tell whether the mechanisms
had any impact on farmers and farm workers
involved in the banana sector (Chapter 2).


The support to ACP sugar producing countries
is different in that it emphasises broad
development initiatives for regions affected by
sugar trade reform. For instance, support must
be linked to national and regional development
strategies and other international development
assistance programmes. Although this new
approach is welcome and appropriate, national
development initiatives to diversify away
from primary commodities have a very poor
track record (Mitchell, 2005). The experience
of diversification highlights the difficulties
involved in transforming regional economies
that have been dependent on one commodity
for many years.


Provide assistance and support for competitive
sugar-producing countries to spread the gains
of trade reform to both smallholders and farm
workers. A positive aspect of the EC’s action plan
is its commitment to small and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs) and smallholder farmers.
Proposals for support need to acknowledge the
problems associated with smallholder sugar
farming. Many of the countries that rely heavily
on smallholders have higher cost structures
than those that source cane from plantations.
For Malzbender (2003, p. 13), the EU’s reform
programme on sugar prices will have a direct
impact on the smallholders sector: “This could
mean that small-scale sugar farming schemes
could simply be financially unsustainable and
alternative solutions for poverty alleviation
would need to be sought”. The South African
experience provides a somewhat more positive
outlook on the future role of smallholder sugar
farmers in a more liberalised sugar market. Over
the last 30 years the sugar industry has supported
smallholder sugar farmers in several parts of
the country. The lessons from this experience
include: the importance of grower participation
in the design and structure of financial support
systems; the need to ensure that extension
and technical services are efficient to support
productivity gains among smallholders; the need
to ensure representation by small sugar producers
in industry structures; the need for millers to
be “supportive” rather than “interventionist” in
their dealings with small growers; and the need


to find ways to ensure that sugar production in
regional economies leads to new opportunities
for small and medium-sized enterprises (e.g.
McIntosh and Vaughan, 1996). In the South African
context processors sourced from smallholders
because they needed an additional supply
of sugar that could not be provided by large
scale producers. Subsequently this has become
a way for processors to demonstrate their
commitment to corporate social responsibility.
In other producing countries, especially in
Southern Africa, this has become an incentive
for processors to source from smallholders,
many of whom are organised in cooperatives.


Provide a more concrete set of proposals and
guidelines for diversification and adaptation.
This is particularly significant for countries that
are heavily dependent on sugar for employment
and livelihoods. In countries like Fiji and
several Caribbean countries, the sugar sector
plays an extremely important role in terms of
employment and foreign exchange earnings.
The options for diversification in the EU’s action
plan are not concrete enough or large enough
given the potential impact of sugar reform on
the livelihoods of those involved in the sector.
An important policy solution would be to develop
concrete guidelines for diversification and
adaptation that are in line with the principles
for sustainable development.


Increase the value and efficiency of support
mechanisms. Critics of the EC’s action plan for


3.8. Recommendations




38 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


ACP sugar exporters have pointed out the limited
value of the support to countries affected by
trade preference erosion. Comparisons have
also been drawn to the much larger support
provided to EU sugar farmers relative to ACP
sugar exporters. There have also been calls to
make the funding more efficient, particularly in
the light of the problems faced by EU agencies
supporting ACP banana exporters (see ACP,
2007). These are legitimate concerns and the EC
should revisit the value of support for ACP sugar
exporters, especially given its potential impact
on countries with high levels of dependency on
sugar. The scale of the potential crisis facing
ACP sugar exporters is not being matched by


the value or the efficiency of EC support. The
EC should be lobbied to increase the value and
efficiency of its support.


Assist competitive producers in finding ways
to increase volumes and efficiency. Sugar
exporters with more competitive cost structures
can minimise the impact of trade preference
erosion, but they will need to increase
production volumes and levels of efficiency.
The EU’s action plan must support efficiency
efforts in management and technical aspects of
production that are in line with the principles of
sustainable development.


The reform of the EU’s sugar regime will affect
all developing country exporters of sugar. In the
short term, it is possible to calculate the scale
of the impact and the countries that are likely to
be worst affected by the reform process. In the
longer term, the growing dominance of Brazil
in the world’s export market, the rise of India
as a sugar exporter, the speed of the EU reform
process and the role of the bio-fuels sector and
industrial investors all make it very difficult to
map the future gainers and losers across and
within countries. In particular, the uncertainty
of sugar prices for ACP sugar is exacerbating
the challenges they face in dealing with trade
preference erosion.


It is unfortunate that ACP countries with
higher cost structures (e.g. Fiji and most of
the Caribbean countries) are also those where
smallholder farmers play a significant role. The
EU’s action plan has emphasised the importance
of supporting small enterprises, including
smallholders, in diversifying into other areas of
agricultural production. The scale of the support
provided by the EU may not, however, be enough


to make up for the impact of trade preference
erosion. More competitive sugar exporters have
the potential to use this opportunity to create
opportunities for smallholders and farm workers
and thereby make a tangible impact on poverty
in least developed countries.


Despite this seemingly bleak outlook there are
opportunities for ACP producers. One strategy
involves supplying EU markets with specialty
sugar products and sugar that can claim social
attributes (e.g. fair trade and organic). Although
the demand for these sugar products in the
EU needs to be carefully assessed, there are
examples of sugar producers that have been
able to successfully supply these market niches
(e.g. Barbados’ “plantation reserve” sugar).24 A
second option would involve supplying regional
markets, which is something that the EPA process
has stressed. Careful planning will be required
to ensure that a regional focus does not disrupt
regional sugar markets (Agritrade, 2008). Finally,
the sugar commodity offers many opportunities
for diversification into other products besides
milled or refined sugar.


3.9. Conclusion


ACP (2007). “Fiji Action Plan: Managing the
Challenges of Reform in the Sugar Sector.” Paper
presented at the 10th ACP Special Ministerial
Conference on Sugar, 30 April to 3 May 2007.
Nadi. Fiji Islands.


Agritrade (2008). “Sugar: Executive Brief.”
Agritrade. Obtained at: http://agritrade.cta.
int/


3.10. References




39ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


Asian Development Bank (2002). “Technical
Assistance to the Republic of the Fiji Islands for
Intermediation of Sugar Sector Restructuring.”
Technical Assistance Report, TAR: FIJ 36151,
Asian Development Bank, June 2002.


Bureau, J-C., Gohin, A., Guinde, L. and Millet, G.
(2007). “EU Reforms and their Impacts.” Paper
presented at a public conference on Global
Sugar Markets, Policies and Reform Options.
Markets, Trade and Institutions Division, IFPRI.
Washington. USA.


Chand, S. (2004). “Sweet Land or Sweat Land:
Two Proposals for Facilitating Access to Land and
Adjustment to Eroding EU Sugar Preferences for
Fiji.” Working Paper 04-6, Asia Pacific School of
Economics and Government, Australian National
University. Melbourne. Australia.


Chaplin, H. and Matthews, A. (2005). “Coping
with the Fallout for Preference-Receiving
Countries from EU Sugar Reform”. Discussion
Paper. The Institute for International Integration
Studies, Trinity College. Dublin. Ireland.


Conforti, P. and Rapsomanikis, G. (2006). “The
Impact of the European Union Sugar Policy Reform
on Developing Countries and Least Developed
Countries”. Commodity Market Review, 2005-
6. Economic and Social Department, Food and
Agriculture Organisation. Rome. Italy.


European Commission (2005). “Action Plan on
Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol
Countries Affected by the Reform of the EU
Sugar Regime”. Commission Staff Working Paper,
SEC (2005) 61. Brussels. Belgium.


European Research Office (2007). The ACP Sugar
Trade with the EU. European Research Office.
Brussels. Belgium.


Garside, B., Hills, T., Marques, J.C., Seeger, C.
and Thiel, V. (2005). “Who Gains from Sugar
Quotas?” ODI-LSE DESTIN DV 406 Research
Project. London School of Economics. London.
United Kingdom.


Gibb, R. (2004). “Developing Countries and Market
Access: The Bitter-Sweet Taste of the European
Union’s Sugar Policy in Southern Africa”. Journal
of Modern African Studies, 42(4): 563-588.


Gillson, I., Hewitt, A. and Page, S. (2005).
“Forthcoming Changes in the EU Banana/Sugar


Markets: A Menu of Options for an Effective
EU Transitional Package.” Report, Overseas
Development Institute (ODI). London. United
Kingdom.


Goodison, P. (2007). “Preference Erosion in
the Banana and Sugar Sectors: Possible Policy
Responses to Assist in Adjusting to Trade
Changes.” Issue Paper No. 7. International
Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development
(ICTSD). Geneva. Switzerland.


Insanally, R. (2005) EU Sugar Regime Reform:
The ACP Perspective, Paper presented at the
Conference on Trade, Agriculture and IP: Issues
leading up to Hong Kong, Helsinki, Finland.


LMC/OPM (2003). Addressing the Impact of
Preference Erosion in Sugar on Developing
Countries. LMC International and Oxford Policy
Management, United Kingdom.


Malzbender, D. (2003). “Reforming the EU Sugar
Regime: Will Southern Africa still Feature?”
Tralac working paper, 12/2003. Stellenbosch.
South Africa.


McDonald, I. (2005). The Sugar Industry of the
Caribbean Community (Caricom): An Overview.
Sugar Association of the Caribbean.


McIntosh, A. and Vaughan, A. (1996). “Enhancing
Rural Livelihoods in South Africa: Myths and
Realities” in Land, Labour and Livelihoods in
Rural South Africa, Lipton, M., Ellis, F. and
Lipton, M.


Milner, C., Morgan, W. and Zgovu, E. (2004).
“Would All ACP Sugar Protocol Exporters Lose
from Sugar Liberalisation.” European Journal of
Development Research 16(4), 790-808.


Mitchell, D. (2004). “Sugar Policies: Opportunity
for Change”. Policy Research Working Paper No.
3222, February 2004. World Bank. Washington
DC. USA.


Mitchell, D., (2005). “Sugar in the Caribbean:
Adjusting to Eroding Preferences.” World Bank
Policy Research Working Paper No. 3802. Available
at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=875454


OECD-FAO (2007). Agricultural Outlook 2007-
2016. Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development and the United Nations Food
and Agriculture Organisation. Paris, France and
Rome, Italy.




40 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


Oxfam (2002). “The Great EU Sugar Scam: How
Europe’s Sugar Regime is Devastating Livelihoods
in the Developing World.” Oxfam briefing paper
27. Oxford. United Kingdom.


Oxfam (2004). “A Sweeter Future? The Potential
for EU Sugar Reform to Contribute to Poverty
Reduction in Southern Africa.” Oxfam briefing
paper 70. Oxford. United Kingdom.


Oxfam (2005a). “Critique of the EC’s Action Plan
for ACP Countries Affected by EU Sugar Reform.”
Joint NGO briefing paper (Oxfam and WWF).
United Kingdom.


Oxfam (2005b). “The Fijian Sugar Industry.”
Make Trade Fair Briefing Paper 77. Oxfam
International. Oxford. United Kingdom.


Prasad, S. and Akram-Lodhi, A.H. (1998). “Fiji
and the Sugar Protocol: A Case for Trade Based
Development Cooperation.” Development Policy
Review 16, 39-60.


Reserve Bank of Fiji (2005). “Sugar Reforms: Do
We Have a Choice? Economics Association of Fiji
Panel Discussion”. RBF Quarterly Review, March
2005.


Sandrey, R. and Vink, N. (2007). “Future
Prospects for African Sugar: Sweet or Sour?”
Paper presented at a public conference on Global
Sugar Markets, Policies and Reform Options,
Markets, Trade and Institutions Division, IFPRI.
Washington. USA.


UNCTAD (2005). “Effects of the “Everything
But Arms” initiative on the sugar industries of
the least developed countries. UNCTAD/DITC/
COM/2004/6. United Nations Conference on
Trade and Development. Geneva. Switzerland.


USDA (2007). World Sugar Situation – May
2007. United States Department of Agriculture.
Washington DC. USA.


Van Berkum, S., Roza, P. and van Tongeren, F.
(2005). “Impacts of the EU Sugar Policy Reforms
on Developing Countries”. Report 6.05.09,
Agricultural Economics Research Institute. The
Hague. The Netherlands.




41ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


The share of developing country cut flower
exports to the European Union, the United
States and Asia has increased significantly in
the last twenty years. These increases have
been facilitated by innovations in logistics
which now allow the rapid transport of fragile
flowers from producing countries to consuming
countries. Developing country producers have
also benefited from low tariffs in the main cut
flower markets of the European Union, the
United States and Japan.


The cut flower value chain is undergoing
rapid transformation in the face of increased
production, changing consumer demands, new
codes of conduct and the role of supermarket
retailers in the sale of flowers. Although the
auction system continues to be the route for
most cut flower producers, direct sales to
retailers and especially supermarket chains is
an important recent development in the value
chain with implications for exporters. A second
development with implications for the cut
flower value chain has been the growing concern
over the environmental and social impacts of
cut flower production in the developing world,
which has given rise to a large range of new
labelling and certification systems.


The cut flower sector has not provided very
many opportunities for smallholder farmers in


the developing world. Small-scale producers
have faced barriers in terms of the high cost
of investment in production and post-harvest
treatment and their lack of access to efficient
cool chains. Yet the sector has provided many
new opportunities for workers, and particularly
women workers in most cut flower producing
countries. The poor working conditions for those
employed in the cut flower industry has been
the focus of many media and NGO campaigns.
These highly publicised campaigns have revealed
problems associated with wages, working
hours, freedom of association and health and
safety. Supermarket retailers, producers and
importers have responded to these problems
by introducing codes of conduct which allow
exporters to certify that their flowers have
been produced according to acceptable social
and environmental criteria.


This chapter begins by examining the global
trade and consumption of cut flowers. In the
third section the value chain for cut flowers
is analysed and recent changes in the chain
are discussed. Section four and five focus on
tariff and non-tariff barriers in the cut flower
sector and section six examines codes of
conduct for labour. The chapter also provides
recommendations for improving working
conditions, which are of relevance to industry
players and multistakeholder groups.


4. VALUE CHAINS AND CODES OF CONDUCT IN
THE CUT FLOWER VALUE CHAIN


4.1. Introduction


The global trade of cut flowers may be divided
into three regional complexes (Figure 4.1; Table
4.1, 4.2). The first regional complex is the
United States and Canada, which is supplied
largely by Latin American producers (Ecuador,
Colombia and Costa Rica). These lower cost
flower producers displaced US producers of cut
flowers in the 1990s, although not without some
resistance from US producers (Ziegler 2007). US
imports now represent over 60 percent of total
consumption (Tips/AusAid 2005).


The European Union is the second regional
complex and is also the world’s largest consumer
of cut flowers. European countries consume
almost 70 percent of global production. There
are important differences within the European
Union. Germany, the Netherlands and France
are traditionally the largest consumers of cut
flowers, but consumption in these three countries
is stagnant or declining. The United Kingdom
market has grown rapidly in the last decade and
is now the largest European consumer of cut


4.2. Global Production, Trade and Consumption




42 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


flowers. Consumption of cut flowers is growing
quickly in Spain, Italy and Poland. The main
suppliers for the EU are European countries
(the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Spain) and
African countries (Kenya, South Africa, Zambia,
Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Uganda). African
exports of cut flowers now represent 18 percent
of total imports to the European Union.


Table 4.1: Cut Flower Imports 2004


Source: Tips/AusAID 2005


Importers


World
European Union
NAFTA
Asia
Central and
Eastern Europe


Value US Dollars


5544720
3751550
978600
293889


141384


Growth in value
2000-2004


9
10
4
5


19


Growth in value
2003-2004


13
10
15
22


49


Share in world
imports


100
68
18
5


3


Table 4.2: Cut Flower Exports 2006
(including ACP countries)


Country


Netherlands
Colombia
Ecuador
Kenya
Italy
Belgium
Israel
Thailand
Spain
Malaysia
Costa Rica
India
Ethiopia
South Africa
China
Singapore
Zimbabwe
Zambia
Tanzania
Uganda


Exports
(US Dollars)


3,332,530,684
967,037,234
435,834,047
231,889,576
81,072,375
75,129,476
69,685,000
67,598,139
62,776,097
40,269,707
39,442,128
31,610,122
25,136,699
24,410,391
20,519,607
20,853,207
16,869,858
11,536,347
9,259,266
2,050,029


Asia represents the third regional complex with
Japan dominating imports of cut flowers with
almost 75 percent of the total. Previously local
producers supplied most of Japan’s consumption
of cut flowers but this has changed in the 1990s
with cheaper imports playing a more important
role. The source of Japanese imports has also
changed in the last decade. Almost half of all
Japanese imports came from the Netherlands
and Thailand. These two countries are now
responsible for only 20 percent of imports.
Although Thailand continues to play an important
role in Japan, Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan and China
have displaced the two traditional suppliers of
cut flowers to Japanese consumers.


The regional pattern described here is in flux
(Figure 4.1). Latin American producers are
becoming important suppliers to the EU market,
while African suppliers are now supplying the
US market through the Africa Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA).25


Key changes in production and exports:


Rise of developing country cut flower exporters.
In the three most important markets – the EU,
the US and Japan – the pattern of imports
has changed in favour of developing country
importers. In Latin America, Ecuador, Colombia
and Costa Rica now supply over 80 percent of the
United States cut flower imports. Total European
Union cut flower imports from developing
countries now represent over 21 percent of
the market in value terms (CBI, 2007). Kenya
has increased its share of the EU market by
12 percent per annum between 2002 and 2006
(CBI, 2007). Other important African producers
are Zambia, Zimbabwe (but see below), South
Africa, Uganda, and Tanzania. The increase in Source: Comtrade (note figures for Zimbabwe are for 2004).




43ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


developing country imports has been facilitated
by low tariffs and by improvements in the
transportation infrastructure for cut flowers.
Most developing country exporters to the EU are
ACP countries and are thus exempt from duties.
The “Everything But Arms” initiative will ensure
that least developed countries will continue to
have duty- free access to EU markets. In the
United States, efforts by domestic producers to
limit cut flower imports through duties and anti-
dumping measures were initially successful,
but during the 1990s political considerations
led to several trade pacts which led in turn to
the elimination of tariffs on Latin American cut
flower exporters.26 Cut flower exports to Japan
do not face import duties or tariffs.


Collapse of Caribbean production during
the 1990s. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the
Caribbean had a vibrant cut flower sector
focused on tropical flowers (anthurium) and
other cut flower varieties. The main Caribbean
exporting countries were Jamaica and Trinidad.
Despite the region’s proximity to the United
States market, the industry declined rapidly
during the 1990s due to various plant diseases
and the high cost of importing plant material.


The collapse of the Caribbean’s cut flower
sector underlines the complexity of the cut
flower export trade.


Decline in Zimbabwean cut flower production.
Zimbabwe’s cut flower production increased
rapidly during the 1990s (Davies 2000). By 2003,
Zimbabwe was exporting almost USD 70 million
worth of cut flowers, mainly to the European
Union. Zimbabwe seemed well placed to mirror
Kenya’s rise as a major African exporter of
cut flowers. The political crisis in Zimbabwe
has, however, led to a collapse in cut flower
exports. The country’s exports of cut flowers
declined to USD 54 million in 2004 and to less
than USD 17 million in 2005 (Tips/AusAID,
2005 and Comtrade). Although the land reform
process and the seizure of farms have played a
role, exporters have faced problems associated
with a difficult macro-economic situation that
has created problems in terms of securing fuel,
fertilisers and other equipment that requires
access to foreign exchange. Two of the four
auctions in the Netherlands are now refusing
to accept flowers from Zimbabwe; for other
importers, Zimbabwe has become an unreliable
source of cut flowers (CBI, 2007).


Figure 4.1: Cut Flower Exports and Imports


Source: Comtrade




44 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


New producers. Although cut flower exports
are concentrated among a few countries, the
last five years have seen the emergence of
several new cut flower exporters. India and
China have both increased their volume of cut
flower exports. In 2004, China and India were
25th and 27th on the list of world exporting
countries and both have plans to increase
production and exports. In Africa, Ethiopia and
Tanzania have increased their exports and show
the potential to become important exporters.
Ethiopia’s progress has been astonishing: it is
now predicted that it will soon rival Kenya as
the continent’s largest cut flower exporter.27


Continued high growth rates for flower
consumption. One of the outstanding features of
the cut flower sector is its rapid growth, especially
in the period since the early 1960s. From the
1960s to the mid-1980s the annual growth rate in
sales turnover exceeded 10 percent (Malter et al,


1999). By the mid-1990s, cut flower consumption
appeared to reach its limit and during most of
the decade the value of sales hovered around
USD 4.1 billion per annum. From the early 2000s
the upward trend in consumption resumed: from
1999 to 2003 the growth rate in sales increased
by 9 percent per year. Estimates are for a
continued upward trajectory in consumption
(Tips/AusAID, 2005).


New trading hubs. The Netherlands has
historically played a key role in the production
and trade of cut flowers, and in many ways
continues in this role. As is discussed in more
detail below, the Netherlands is increasingly
focusing on playing the role of cut flower
distributor rather than producer. It is likely to
face increasing competition in this role: the
Dubai Flower Centre was established in 2005
and is positioning itself as a new “state-of-the-
art” hub for the trade in cut flowers.


The barriers to entry in cut flower production
and export are high. Producing and exporting
high quality flowers requires investment in
greenhouses, sophisticated irrigation equipment
and access to an efficient cool chain. Although
cut flower production in developing countries
can and does occur outdoors, the demands
for flowers with a long “vase life”, uniform
buds and stems, and blemish-free leaves, has
encouraged exporters to invest in covered
growing facilities (Malter et al, 1999). The
technical demands of cut flower production are
equally high and require skills, experience and
expensive inputs.


The high barriers to entry in the cut flower
sector have shaped the structure of production
and exports. In most developing countries, cut
flower exports are concentrated in the hands
of a small number of large companies. In Kenya
there are as many as 500 producer exporters,
but only 60 companies are responsible for
almost all cut flower exports. The largest 25
companies are responsible for over 60 percent
of exports (Dolan et al, 2002). In countries like
Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, production is
also concentrated in the hands of between 10


and 20 operations (Asea and Kaija, 2000; Davies,
2000; Hatibu et al, 2000). An exception in Africa
is South Africa, although the industry’s focus on
internal markets may explain the relative lack
of concentration.


The high barriers to entry have tended to
exclude smallholders from the cut flower export
sector. Although there are 500 smallholder
cut flower farmers in Kenya who may use the
packing facilities of the larger corporations,
their contribution to the country’s cut flower
exports is very limited (Thoen et al, 2000). The
Kenyan Flower Growers Association has run a
training programme for smallholders but there
is little evidence that the programme has led
to significant increases in cut flower production
from small scale producers. One of the reasons
why smallholders face problems in Kenya may
be that they are restricted to supply chains that
are riskier and more costly: “smaller growers
have to deal with more agents in the supply
chain, weaker marketing links and the risk that
their product may not even gain access to space
on flights at all” (Hughes, 2000, 184; also see
Wijnands, 2005). In other African countries,
including Uganda and Tanzania, there are


4.3. The Global Value Chain for Cut Flowers




45ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


no smallholder cut flower farmers (Sonko et
al, 2005). The most important producers in
Latin America – Ecuador and Colombia – are
also concentrated with few opportunities for
smallholder farmers (Korovkin, 2003).28


While cut flower production may exclude
smallholders, the nature of production is labour
intensive and the cut flower sector has created
many new employment opportunities. In Kenya
the industry employs between 40,000 and 50,000
people, while as many as 110,000 workers are
employed in Colombia’s flower sector (Kovorkin
and Sanmiguel-Valderrama, 2007). Cut flower
farms employ a large proportion of women and
they tend to be concentrated in the most labour
intensive areas of production (Dolan et al,
2002). In addition to those directly employed in
the sector many more jobs have been created in
service sectors that supply the cut flower farms,
including logistics and input supply firms.


There is a significant difference in the cost
structure of cut flower production in Europe
compared to most other developing countries.
While the highest cost for European producers is
labour, among developing countries the highest
costs are for freight and marketing (CBI, 2007).
At present, European and developing country
producers do not always compete head-to-
head given that the latter export most of
their flowers during the European winter when
production costs become very high. When
they do compete, European producers tend
to be more competitive given their proximity
to markets and the higher diversity of their
production range.


Given the significance of freight costs for
developing country producers, the distance
to markets and the efficiency of the logistics
system is an important factor in determining
competitiveness. For instance, Ethiopia’s
advantage as a cut flower exporter over
Kenya is that it is two hours closer by plane
to European markets. Given the fragility of
the commodity and the relationship between
quality and time to market, two hours is an
important competitive advantage. Both Uganda
and Zambia have faced problems in the cut
flower export market due to their relatively


less efficient logistics infrastructure (Asea and
Kaija, 2000). The importance of proximity to
markets also explains why Latin American
cut flower exports focus on the United States
market while African producers supply most of
their flowers to Europe.


Given its relative success in exporting
deciduous and subtropical fruit, South Africa
is surprisingly the least competitive African
exporter of cut flowers. A recent study on the
South African cut flower sector found that it
was “lagging behind its African counterparts”
due to the “primitive set-up of greenhouses,
the low levels of investment in the industry
and the inappropriate varieties that are being
produced” (Matthee et al 2006, 514). One of
the key problems facing the sector in terms
of becoming a more effective exporter is the
relatively large local market for flowers, which
results in local producers exporting sporadically
(e.g. when the currency weakens or when local
demand falters). Exporters are, as a result, not
accredited by international certification systems
and tend not to shape production methods or
the product to international markets.


Cut flower producers and exporters rely
heavily on an efficient and effective cool chain
infrastructure. The time between harvesting
and delivery to a retail outlet should not be
longer than four days; anything longer than
this compromises the quality and vase life of
the product. The importance of logistics is such
that Kenyan exporters have their own logistics
system to transport flowers from the farms to
the airport and onto the planes.


There are four routes to international markets
for cut flower producers and exporters (Figure
4.2). These are: directly to auctions; through
an agent who then sells on to an auction;
via an import wholesaler; and directly to a
supermarket or retail store (Tips/AusAid, 2005).
In the European Union, the majority of cut
flower sales are handled through two auctions
based in the Netherlands. The advantage of
the auctions for producers and exporters is
that they do not make demands on suppliers in
terms of variety. Auction sales are also efficient,
payment systems are quick, and there tend to be




46 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


fewer quality disputes. Exporters using auctions
must have licenses that specify varieties and
quantities of cut flowers to be supplied, and
they must guarantee that a certain percentage
of their business goes through the auction. A
disadvantage of the auction system is that
small and medium scale cut flower producers
compete with very large producers. The
majority of developing country imports to the
European Union go through the Netherlands,
which confirms the importance of auctions
to cut flower exporters from the developing
world (CBI 2007). In the United States most
sales are through wholesalers although there
are auctions in several major cities including
Miami, New York and Los Angeles, but these are
not nearly as important as they are in Europe.
Japan’s supply system, in contrast, depends on
a complex and decentralised auction system
(Tips/AusAid, 2005).


A second route to Europe involves the use of
agents, who handle the logistics involved
in receiving the flowers at the airport and
arrange for the flowers to be transported to
the auction. Agents will also perform other
functions for flower producers to prepare them
for sale at the auction. For developing country
producers and exporters of cut flowers who


Figure 4.2: Cut Flower Chain


Source: CBI, 2007


Grower / Exporter


Agent


Auctions


Wholesaler


Retailer


Consumer


1 2 3


do not have a presence in Europe, agents are
especially important in bringing the flowers
to market. In the last five years, the role of
agents has become more important and they
have acquired a range of new “competencies”
including “purchasing and consolidating flowers
in supplier countries; becoming financially
integrated into flower farms; and providing
a wide range of marketing information on
consumption trends, environmental programmes,
and quality-related aspects of distribution”
(CBI, 2005, 85). Agents are also involved in
providing value-added services to supermarkets
and other retail outlets.


A third route to European markets is by
selling cut flowers directly to European based
wholesalers. These buyers play an important
role and will “assist producers on all manner
of know-how, from quality, presentation and
assortment to transportation and handling
matters” Tips/AusAid (2005, 40). Wholesalers
may sell the flowers they have purchased from
producers/exporters to the auction or they
may export the product to retailers in other
European countries. Contracts with wholesalers
are rare and they tend to source the product
they need depending on market demands.
Quality claims and payment problems tend to
be more common with wholesalers.


The last route involves selling directly to
supermarket chains and garden centres.
Supplying supermarkets is more complicated
for producer/exporters as it requires greater
involvement in logistics. As is discussed in more
detail below, direct sale to supermarkets is a
growing trend given the increasing volumes of
flowers now sold through large retail chains.


The route that flower exporters use varies
within the most important cut flower exporting
countries. In Kenya there are several companies
that export exclusively to supermarkets in the
United Kingdom (Thoen et al, 2000). Other
exporters tend to use a range of routes including
supermarkets, auctions and direct sales to
wholesalers. Companies supplying supermarkets
are normally larger as they have the capacity
to meet the demands for volume and product
specificity. In Uganda and Tanzania, cut flower




47ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


exporters tend to rely on auctions rather than
direct sales to supermarkets.


The structure of cut flower retailing shows
considerable diversity within Europe. In
Germany, which is one of the largest importers
of cut flowers, most sales (54 percent) are
through florists. These retailers tend to be
independently owned and have the reputation
of providing a better service to customers and
a higher quality and range of flowers. They
are also involved in providing customers with
flowers for special occasions (e.g. weddings


and funerals). The share of cut flowers sales in
Germany through growers and supermarkets is
only around 15 percent, although it has been
growing in the last five years (Table 4.3). The
Netherlands and France tend to have similar
retail structures and a similar shift towards
supermarket sales. In the United Kingdom,
in contrast, around 65 percent of cut flower
sales is through the large supermarket chains
while only 24 percent is sold through florists.
Supermarkets have come to dominate the sale
of cut flowers in a remarkably short period of
time (Table 4.4).


Table 4.3: Cut Flower Sales in Germany (%)


Source: CBI 2005


Germany
Florists
Growers
Supermarkets


Streetandmarket


Garden centres
Others


1999
64
13
10
8
2
3


2000
63
13
10
8
3
3


2001
60
14
11
8
4
4


2002
57
16
12
8
4
3


2003
54
16
14
8
4
4


Table 4.4: Cut Flower Sales in the United Kingdom (%)


Source: CBI 2005


United Kingdom
Supermarkets
Florists
Streetandmarket


Groceries
Garden centres/growers
Others


1999
45
36
7
3
3
5


2000
51
30
6
3
3
7


2001
58
27
6
3
3
6


2002
64
25
5


2
4


2003
65
24
5


2
4


Key changes in the cut flower value
chain:
Product differentiation and price. The
last ten years have seen increasing product
differentiation. The demand is high for classic
flower varieties that have become increasingly
commoditised and oversupplied. But the
fastest growth markets are for exotics and
novelty flowers, including indigenous varieties.
In many ways the market for flowers parallels
the market for high value fruit and vegetables
in that there is greater competition and price
pressure on traditional varieties, while there is


a growing demand for new, exotic or indigenous
varieties and for value added products. The
implication for cut flower producers is that the
market for traditional varieties is becoming
more competitive and they face pressure to
diversify their production range. The price of cut
flowers is determined by a wide range of factors
including the variety, the quality, uniformity of
stem length and bud size, colour and overall
appearance. Prices are also shaped by the
reputation of the supplier in terms of regularity
of consignments and their consistency over
time. There are marked seasonal differences




48 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


as well and intra-day price fluctuations (CBI,
2005). Despite the complex way in which prices
are determined in the cut flower sector, there
is evidence that prices have declined in the last
decade, especially for products where there is a
perceived oversupply (e.g. roses). The prices for
more new varieties, on the other hand, may be
increasing, which reflects the demand for flowers
that are beyond the ordinary.


Concentration of wholesaling. The wholesale
trade in Europe is becoming more concentrated.
The consolidation of the wholesale trade is
partly due to the emphasis on shorter chains
between producers and retailers and the
growing dominance of supermarket chains in
cut flower sales. As the most recent EU market
report by the Centre for the Promotion of
Imports from Developing Countries (2005, 86)
notes, the “fastest growing companies are the
ones working with supermarkets”. Their role in
linking cut flower producers with supermarkets
has also led to wholesalers taking on greater
functions including the monitoring of quality and
coordinating supply logistics. The changing role
of wholesalers reflects a significant change in the
value chain for cut flowers that are partly driven
by the growing importance of supermarkets in
the industry.


Role of supermarkets. Although cut flower sales
in Europe and North America continue to be sold
mainly through florists and other independent
retail outlets, the role of supermarkets is growing
rapidly. In the United Kingdom, as noted earlier,
supermarket multiples now dominate the sale of
flowers. In other European markets the volume of
flowers sold through supermarkets is considerably
less, but it is increasing rapidly at the expense of
independent florists. Supermarkets usually source
flowers through dedicated importers rather than
through the auction system. As is more broadly
the case with fresh fruit and vegetables (Dolan
and Humphrey, 2004), supermarket sourcing
practices have reshaped the supply chain and
have created new demands on primary producers.
While a recent CBI (2007) report suggests that
supermarkets have gone some way to improving
the quality of flowers they offer, the highest
quality flowers in the European market are still
sold through the auctions.


Vertical integration. Increased competition in
the cut flower trade has encouraged producer
country firms to establish a presence in consumer
markets. In Miami, for example, many of the
importers have been established by very large
cut flower firms based in Colombia and Ecuador
(Tips/AusAid, 2005; Korovkin, 2005). Flamingo
Flowers is an example of a company that started
as an exporter in Kenya (Homegrown) and then
expanded its business to the United Kingdom
in order to manage and market its flowers. The
company currently markets cut flowers in the UK
sourced from its own farms in Kenya and South
Africa. Importers in consuming countries have
also become involved in primary production and
in some cases have made investments in cut
flower farms or export companies. Dole Flowers is
not only vertically integrated into the production
and sales of cut flowers, it also leases airplanes to
transport flowers from its farms in Colombia and
Ecuador to its warehouses in the United States.
The vertical integration of cut flower production,
transport and sales is a significant development
in the cut flower value chain.


New market demands associated with
environmental and social requirements. The
labour intensive nature of flower production
and its impact on the environment through
chemical inputs has attracted the attention of
non-governmental organisations and consumer
groups. Consumers are particularly concerned
that flowers that are purchased for gifts are
produced in a sustainable way: “who wants to
be seen giving an item that is suspected of being
unhealthy or not environmentally friendly?”
(ILO, 2000, 1). The range of environmental
and social certification systems is very wide
indeed. Many of the environmental and social
standards are set by private agents including
GlobalGAP (formerly EurepGAP) and the MPS
(Milieu Programma Sierteelt) environmental
standard. Individual supermarket chains are also
involved in setting their own production and
environmental standards. Non-governmental
organisations have been very active in attempting
to improve conditions for farm workers on flower
farms, especially in Colombia and Ecuador.
In the United Kingdom, NGOs have exposed
the “human costs” of cut flowers supplied to
large supermarket chains in an effort to make




49ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


companies accountable for the conditions under
which flowers are produced (Morser and McRae,
2007).


The growing role of supermarkets in cut flower sales
seems to suggest that the value chain is becoming
buyer-driven. Supermarkets are restructuring the
flower chain much in the way they did for fruit
and vegetable exports from developing countries.
There is greater emphasis on quality and variety,
there are more demands on meeting various codes
of practice including traceability, and functions
previously performed by supermarkets are being
passed down to suppliers and primary producers.
The shift from “market-driven” to ”buyer- driven”
in Europe is, however, uneven as is its impact on
developing country suppliers. While cut flower
sales in the United Kingdom are dominated by
supermarkets, in other European countries the
situation is changing more slowly and it is likely
that florists and garden centres will continue to
sell more flowers than supermarkets for some
time. The same is true of the Dutch auction
system: although direct supplies to supermarkets
represent a challenge to the auction system, it
seems unlikely that direct supply to supermarkets
will replace auctions. For cut flower suppliers,
especially those based in Africa, the implications
of these changes are important. The lesson from
the fresh fruit and vegetable sector is that those
suppliers who are large enough and well resourced
enough to meet the demands of supermarkets


will supply this channel, but smaller and less
resourced cut flower exporters will continue
to use the less demanding auction system. The
disadvantage for smaller exporters is that the
auction system is becoming more competitive
with greater pressure on prices. Larger cut flower
exporters supplying supermarkets, as we have
seen, may not be significantly better off given
the demands, buying practices and the functions
that are passed down the chain.


Tallontire et al (2005) suggest that the difference
between the supermarket and the Dutch auction
supply chains shapes production practices and by
implication the conditions for farm workers. They
argue that the “absence of dedicated customers
dictating the terms of the trading relationship
gives flower producers greater latitude to
establish employment strategies that match
production conditions (e.g. the annualisation of
production), while simultaneously maintaining
their competitiveness”. In other words, the Dutch
auction system allows cut flower suppliers the
leeway to provide relatively better conditions
for workers on cut flower farms. In contrast,
the demands made by supermarkets means that
cut flower exporters are more likely to rely on
casual or temporary labour. Tallontire et al’s
(2005) argument underlines the insights that may
be gained from a value chain analysis in that
it provides a way of linking buying practices to
employment conditions.


In stark contrast to the tariff regimes in both
sugar and bananas, the trade in cut flowers
is not heavily influenced by tariffs. Most
developing country exports to Europe fall under
the “Everything But Arms” initiative for least
developed countries. In the United States,
cut flower exporters from Latin America have
faced tariffs in the past but now enjoy duty-
free access to this market through the Andean
Trade Preferences Act. Although most Latin
American cut flower exports are sold in the
United States, they also have access to the EU
market through the GSP+ protocol. Similarly,
African exports are mostly sold in Europe,
but they have preferential access to the US
through the African Growth and Opportunity


Act (AGOA). South Africa is an exception within
the ACP group as it has a bi-lateral agreement
with the EU, which imposes a 4 percent tariff
on its flower exports. The Dubai Flower Centre
(DFC) is a duty-free zone and therefore there
are no tariffs for flower exporters. Exports to
other countries in the Middle East will, however,
carry a 5 percent tariff.


The absence of tariffs for cut flower exports
is one of the reasons why the industry has
developed so successfully in developing world
countries like Kenya, Colombia and Ecuador. Yet
current trade negotiations associated with the
EPA process pose a very real threat to flower
exporting countries that are not classified


4.4. Tariffs




50 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


as LDCs. If EPA process is not successfully
negotiated by the end of 2007, Kenya will face
the prospect of having to export its flowers
under the EU GSP arrangement, which has a
tariff of 5 percent on imports. Given the very
tight profit margins in cut flower exports, this
tariff could be very costly to the industry. It
would also allow cut flower competitors like
Ecuador, which has duty-free access to the EU
through the GSP+ agreement, to begin to take
market share from Kenya. One of the possible
outcomes is the shift of cut flower production
from Kenya to LDC countries like Zambia,
Tanzania and Ethiopia, which have preferential
and duty free access to the EU through the EBA.
This scenario is similar to what has occurred in


the region’s sugar sector, with sugar processors
making very large investments in LDCs.


While cut flower exporters are not (yet) affected
by tariffs, they are faced with a daunting range
of non-tariff barriers which can provide a serious
obstacle to trade, particularly if they lead
to shipment delays for this highly perishable
commodity. In addition to formal requirements
associated with phytosanitary regulations,
producers are increasingly encouraged to meet
a set of social and environmental codes. Since
the range of regulations and standards is wide,
this issue is discussed in more detail in the
following section.


Cut flower exporters face a bewildering range
of grades and standards related to plant health
control, breeders’ rights, quality standards, and
environmental and social issues. A hallmark of
the new standards regime is the involvement
of both public entities and private agencies in
standard setting.


Phytosanitary regulations protect importing
countries from pests and plant diseases that
can be transmitted via plant exports. Exports of
cut flowers to European countries are regulated
through Directive 2000/29/EC, which identifies
a range of pests and plant diseases that are to
be controlled. Exporters to the EU require a
phytosanitary certificate, which certifies that the
plant material conforms to the EU’s Directive. The
intensity of inspection is increasing, particularly
for exporting countries where there is a perceived
problem in terms of weak inspection procedures
for plant diseases and pests (Tips/AusAID,
2005). In addition, of the total interceptions for
horticultural products, over 60 percent were for
cut flowers (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2006).
The availability of an effective plant protection
service is especially important in the cut flower
trade as delays due to extended inspections can
affect the quality of the product (Wijnands,
2005). In Kenya there is no local agent accredited
to issue phytosanitary certificates: the country’s
Plant Inspectorate Service is only permitted
to accredit fruit and vegetables. Kenyan cut


flower exports must be inspected both prior to
leaving Nairobi airport and on entry to Europe,
which is costly both in terms of time and money
(PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2007).


The development of new plant varieties is
very important in a market that is increasingly
becoming oversupplied. In order to compensate
the research and development costs that are
required to develop new plant varieties, there
are various regulations that protect intellectual
property rights. The International Union for
the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV)
protects plant breeders for a period of 25 years,
who then usually recoup the development costs
through a licensing system. The agreement on
Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
Rights (TRIPS) is encouraging Members of the
WTO to introduce frameworks to protect the
intellectual property rights of breeders.


In addition to these formal regulations, cut
flower exporters are subject to a wide range of
production codes that can be usefully divided into
four categories: company codes, northern trade
association codes, southern producer codes, and
independent codes. Company codes are those
implemented by individual supermarkets and
retailers. The origin of these codes, especially
in the case of UK supermarkets, is the pressure
they have faced in terms of defending themselves
from claims for food safety violations as well as


4.5. Non-tariff Barriers and Codes of Conduct




51ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


environmental and ethical considerations. Most
large supermarket chains introduced their own
“ethical”, “responsible” and “sound” sourcing
codes in the 1990s.


GlobalGAP (formerly EurepGAP) is an example
of a northern trade association code. The code
was established in the late 1990s as a standard
for fruit, vegetable and flower suppliers of the
largest supermarket chains in Europe. From 2003
all suppliers to supermarkets that are members
of the EurepGAP consortium had to have met
the good agricultural practice regulations of
the code. While the emphasis of the code is on
environmental and food safety issues, the code
does include worker welfare and safety concerns.
The Milieu Programma Sierteelt (MPS) is one of
the earliest codes for cut flower exporters and
it remains the most important code for flowers
sold through the Dutch auction system. The code
emphasises the importance of environmentally
sustainable production by focusing on pesticide
use, recycling practices, and energy and
water use. Although the code has focused on
environmental issues, as is the case with many
other codes it now includes guidelines for labour
and social conditions.


Producer countries have also established their
own set of codes, partly in an effort to reduce
the number of compliance certificates required
by exporters, but also as a way of providing a
brand image. African exporters like Kenya and
Zambia have their own codes. In Kenya, the
Kenyan Flower Council established its own code
in early 1990s. The code has two standards:
the silver standard meets ILO conventions,
Kenyan labour laws, and the country’s
environmental regulations. Meeting the KFC’s
gold standard demands adherence to a stricter
set of environmental regulations. The major
Latin American countries have also established
their own codes for cut flower exporters. In


Colombia, the cut flower producers’ association
(Asocolflores) has introduced the Flor Verde
code (literally “green flower”), which requires
that growers and exporters meet a range
of environmental and social goals including
professional training, welfare, human resource
management and control of emissions (Winjgard,
2005). Ecuador’s cut flower exporter association
has introduced a similar code for its members
(Korovkin and Sanmiguel-Valderrrama, 2007).


While the quality standards implemented by
private and public agencies are focused on
production methods and good agricultural
practices, independent codes are usually
implemented by non-governmental organisations
(NGOs) and they emphasise the social conditions
under which cut flowers are produced. The
International Code of Conduct (ICC) for cut
flowers was established by the International
Union of Food Workers and a range of European-
based NGOs in the late 1990s. The ICC code
emphasises fair treatment of workers including
the right to freedom of association as well as
adequate wages, good living conditions, and
normal working hours. In addition, the code
prohibits child and forced labour. The ICC code
is implemented and monitored through a range
of stakeholders including workers, unions and
growers associations. In Switzerland, the ICC has
been embraced by the Migros supermarket chain,
which was involved in verifying that producers
in various cut flower exporting countries were
meeting the code. In the case of Zimbabwe, the
company agreed to pay an additional 5 cents per
stem, a cost that was not passed on to consumers.
The company hoped to make up the difference
through larger sales volumes of ICC accredited
cut flowers (ILRF, 2003). In 2001 the ICC code
was recognised by the Max Havelaar Foundation,
which then allowed certified exporters to use
benefit from a fair trade label.


The majority of the codes of conduct for cut
flower operations were introduced in the early
1990s. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, a
number of research papers were published
focusing on the effectiveness of the codes in


improving the working conditions of men and
women involved in the cut flower sector. The
research was prompted by ongoing reports of
poor working conditions in the cut flower export
sector and by the perceived need to assess the


4.6. Codes and Cut Flower Farm Workers




52 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


effectiveness of the codes in addressing the
social and environmental problems associated
with cut flower exports. Improving the auditing
process and the way the codes are governed
were two important outcomes of this process.


For several reasons, Kenya has provided an
important “laboratory” for assessing the impact
of codes. First, Kenya has been proactive in
establishing its own producer code through
the Kenya Flower Council. In other words, the
country has a long history of developing and
implementing codes for cut flower exporters.
Second, Kenya’s flower sector has over the
years shifted its focus from the Dutch auction
system to the direct supply of supermarkets
in the United Kingdom. This shift has exposed
Kenyan growers to a far greater range of codes;
it has also led to greater scrutiny of the working
conditions on cut flower farms. Finally, the
Kenyan sector was one of the pilot programmes
for the Ethical Trade Initiative, which was
a multi-stakeholder programme to improve
working conditions in the country’s cut flower
sector. The discussion here draws primarily on
the Kenyan experience, but where possible the
experience of other African and Latin American
countries is also used.


Although much of the research on the impact
of codes of conduct has stressed the limited
impact that they have had on working conditions
in the sector, there are several positive
developments. The companies interviewed by
Dolan et al (2002) in Kenya in 2002 reported
that the codes had led to them becoming
aware of a range of issues including: their
legal and social obligation to workers, a better
understanding of both local and international
legal requirements and an awareness of
sensitive employment issues, especially those
associated with women workers. In addition
to this, employers understood the necessity
of meeting these codes of conduct in order to
compete in European markets. An unexpected
positive development was that several cut
flower producers “equated worker welfare
directly with productivity of the company”
(Dolan et al, 2002, 26; also see Collison,
2001). Finally, there were benefits in terms of
improving managerial practices, which in turn


assisted flower enterprises in becoming more
efficient and economically sustainable.


Despite these positive developments, a key
concern is the ongoing reporting of code
violations in the cut flower export sector of
developing countries like Kenya, Ecuador
and Colombia (Dolan and Opondo, 2005). The
literature on codes of conduct in the flower
sector suggests that there are four reasons
why the various codes have not had their
desired effect. First, the codes are often highly
technical and focused on the environmental
aspects of production rather than the social
conditions under which flowers are produced.
For Hale and Opondo (2005), this is because
the codes themselves were, initially at least,
a response to the concerns by consumers for
their own health and safety. When the codes
do include broader social issues such as worker
welfare, they are implemented selectively so
that the emphasis remains on the technical
and environmental aspects of production.
There are codes that have a stronger focus
on worker welfare, but these tend to focus
on permanently employed workers. Workers
employed on a temporary or casual basis are
often ignored by the codes, despite the fact
that they are the most vulnerable groups in
the cut flower labour force. The research on
the Kenyan cut flower sector has also played
a crucial role in revealing the gender bias of
the codes. While some codes cover gender
discrimination and inequality, “very few codes
extend beyond working conditions to work-
related issues such as the provision of housing,
childcare, reproductive rights, parental leave,
and transport” (Tallontire et al 2005, 564).
Given that a high proportion of the workforce on
cut flowers is female, the gender bias of codes
goes some way to explaining why they have
not played a more positive role in improving
working conditions on cut flower farms.


A second problem with the codes is that with
regard to working conditions, they frequently
rely on national labour legislation. In countries
like Kenya the legislation for workers is weak,
which renders the codes ineffective in improving
working conditions on flower farms. In most of
the surveys of Kenyan cut flower farms, the
results show that progressive exporters meet




53ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


or exceed the codes of conduct as they are
based on national labour legislation. Where the
labour legislation is progressive, as it is in the
case of countries like South Africa, there are
problems in terms of enforcement. In countries
like Colombia the labour legislation is not only
weak, it has created the space for cut flower
employers to hire more workers on a temporary
or casual basis (Kovorkin, 2007). The reliance
of codes on local labour laws is not always an
effective way of improving conditions on cut
flower farms.


A third problem is related to the auditing process
itself. Writing on the basis of their research
in Kenya, Dolan and Opondo (2005, 88) raise
“questions about the capacity of conventional
auditing procedures to detect workplace
violations and breaches of codes of conduct”.
Auditing procedures frequently employ a
“checklist” approach, which may involve
interviews with workers, but rarely allows for
any in-depth exploration of working conditions
(cf. Du Toit, 2002). The checklist approach
is also not effective in revealing sensitive
problems such as sexual harassment, gender
discrimination and unfair labour practices
(Dolan et al, 2002). As Dolan et al (2002, 53)
argue “many of these issues are often deeply
embedded in social norms, practices, and
institutions, and are therefore not easily picked
up by ‘parachuting’ monitors who make snapshot
assessments” (also see Hughes 2001b).


A fourth problem is related to the different
codes for cut flower exporters. In countries like
Kenya, local producer codes were introduced in
order to simplify the situation for both producers
and importers/consumers. To this end, the
Kenya Flower Council codes were designed so
that they were in line with GlobalGAP and other
important northern trade association codes.
From the perspective of Kenyan cut flower
exporters the alignment between different
codes could also hopefully make it possible
for producers to avoid having to meet multiple
codes. In Colombia and Ecuador the relationship
between southern and northern codes is not
as positive. In both of these countries the
producer codes emphasise industry productivity
and profitability rather than worker welfare.
More importantly, these codes are presented


as the only code for cut flower exports and
are used by the industry to deflect efforts to
introduce more progressive codes of conduct.
While the producer codes in Kenya seem to
work hand-in-hand with northern producer
codes, in Colombia and Ecuador – where there
is considerable hostility to codes of conduct –
producer organisations have introduced their
own codes as a way of shielding themselves from
more progressive systems aimed at improving
working conditions.


A final problem is the relationship between
codes of conduct and the buying practices of
northern supermarkets. As Hughes (2001a)
has pointed out, the codes “almost always
ignore the terms of trade between producers
and buyers”. Research on working conditions
suggests that the terms of trade – and
especially lead firm buying practices – accounts
for many of the problems faced by workers
including long working hours, health and safety
problems, the shift to a casual workforce, and
the intensification of work. In contrast, when
the terms of trade are characterised by lower
levels of “buyer-driveness”, as is the case with
the Dutch auctions, cut flower exporters have
the leeway to provide more progressive and
acceptable working conditions. It is somewhat
ironic that supermarket supply chains, which
have strict requirements on code compliance,
are characterised by buying practices that
place pressure on employers to intensify
working conditions and employ more casual and
temporary workers.


The various problems with existing codes of
conduct have led to important initiatives to
improve the operation of the codes and the
auditing procedures. Two prominent solutions
are participatory social auditing and multi-
stakeholder approaches. Participatory social
auditing has been proposed as a way of
overcoming the problems inherent with overly
technical approaches to auditing. This approach
to auditing goes beyond the “checklist” method
and involves a range of information gathering
techniques that may not be revealed in a
snapshot audit. Proponents of participatory
social auditing recommend the use of semi-
structured interviews, focus group discussions,
participant observation and group exercises as




54 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


a way of ensuring that the voices of marginal
groups are heard. Other advantages of the
method are that it is flexible, it can be adapted
to different contexts, and it has the potential
for awareness building that may lead to long
term changes in the conditions of workers on
cut flower farms.


For participatory social auditing to be an
effective method for change it requires the
participation of all stakeholders involved in
the value chain including consumers, retailers,
producers, farm workers, unions and civil
society groups. A multi-stakeholder approach


code implementation, combined with
participatory social auditing, is viewed
as another way of addressing some of the
problems associated with codes of conduct
in the cut flower sector. The best example of
a multi-stakeholder organisation is Kenya’s
Horticultural Ethical Business Initiative (HEBI),
which has the support of government, civil
society and cut flower producers. Despite
problems in terms of managing the different
interests in the stakeholder group, HEBI
is committed to addressing the ongoing
employment problems in Kenya’s cut flower
industry (Dolan et al, 2002).


Bring worker welfare issues into the
mainstream of all codes of conduct. One of
the problems with the codes that have been
implemented, with perhaps the exception of the
Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), is that they are
strong on environmental regulations but relatively
weak in terms of the provisions for working
conditions. An example is the Ethiopian Code
of Practice on Sustainable Flower Cultivation.
The code of practice was developed by the
country’s horticultural producers association
and is a response to the demand by Ethiopia’s
rapidly growing cut flower sector for guidelines
on corporate social responsibility. While the
code does make some reference to labour and
the social conditions of workers, the emphasis is
on competitiveness, market trends, quality and
logistics. NGOs and other interested stakeholders
should pressure all agents in the flower chain to
ensure that producer codes of practice include
social and worker welfare issues.


Continue to refine multi-stakeholder approaches
to codes of conduct. Codes of practice were
introduced in the early 1990s and have
undergone a period of considerable change and
development. There seems to be consensus on
the benefits of multi-stakeholder approaches.
In terms of participatory social auditing, it is
unclear to what extent these have replaced
the “snapshot” auditing process of the past.
Nonetheless, the multi-stakeholder approach
provides a forum for beginning to explore new
methods of auditing. Further developments in


the content and auditing of codes of conduct
may assist in building on what has already been
achieved through multi-stakeholder approaches.


Pressure through trade agreements. The cut
flower sector emerged in the developing world
thanks partly to the trade preferences offered
to Latin American and African producers. In
Latin America, cut flower exporters benefited
from the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA)
while exporters from Africa were able to export
duty free to the European Union through the
Cotonou agreement. Both trade preference
systems contain provisions for worker rights.
The ATPA system requires exporting countries to
“take steps to afford internationally organized
worker rights” (cited in US-LEAP, 2007). Similarly,
under the Cotonou agreement members commit
themselves to internationally recognised core
labour standards. There is a further provision
for the exchange of information on labour
legislation and education and awareness raising
programmes. In the United States, NGOs,
politicians and unions have submitted petitions
to the US trade representative to review the ATPA
status of Colombia and Ecuador based on their
findings of worker abuse and rights violations.
Their efforts have not led to trade bans, but
have instead resulted in Ecuador’s status being
placed “under review” since 2003. Although the
impact of placing Ecuador under review remains
to be explored, this is potentially one (somewhat
blunt) lever to improve working conditions on
cut flower farms.


4.7. Recommendations




55ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


The growth of cut flower exporters from
developing countries has been a significant
development in the global trade of horticultural
products. The rise of developing country
exporters has been facilitated by low tariffs,
improved communications and logistics, and
lower labour costs. ACP countries, but most
notably Kenya, are important players in the
global cut flower trade.


The role of supermarkets in flower sales
represents the most significant change in the cut
flower value chain. The role of supermarkets in
the flower chain varies within Europe and between
Europe and other importing regions. Supermarket
sourcing strategies are, nonetheless, playing a far
more important role in most cut flower markets.
Value chain analysis has provided insights into
the relationship between the organisation of
chains and their impact on working conditions


and wages. Research suggests that supermarket
chains, which are characterised by high levels
of “buyer-driveness”, may be associated with
more difficult conditions for farm workers. The
organisation of non-supermarket cut flower chains
(e.g. auctions), on the other hand, seems to
provide employers with the space to offer better
working conditions. More research is needed to
confirm the strength of the relationship between
chain organisation and working conditions.


Codes of conduct have proliferated in the cut
flower industry. Company codes of conduct are
common and several producing countries have
introduced multi-stakeholder forums to improve
working conditions and the environmental
impact of cut flower production. The Kenyan
experience provides important lessons for other
multi-stakeholder initiatives.


4.8. Conclusion


Asea, P.K. and Kaija, D. (2000). “Impact of the
Flower Industry in Uganda.” ILO Sectoral Activities
Programme, Working Paper WP 148. International
Labour Organization. Geneva. Switzerland.


Blumenthal, M. and Gow, H.R. (2006). “Contract
Farming and Cut Flowers: an Ecuadorian Cut
Flower Firm’s Response to Dollarization.” Paper
submitted for presentation at the International
Food & Agribusiness Management Association
World Food & Agribusiness Symposium June 10-
13, 2005. Buenos Aires. Argentina.


CBI (2005). “Cut Flowers and Foliage.” EU Market
Survey, Centre for the Promotion of Imports from
developing countries. The Netherlands.


CBI (2007). “The Cut Flower and Foliage Market
in the EU”. Centre for the Promotion of Imports
from Developing Countries. Rotterdam. The
Netherlands.


Collison, C. (2001). “The Business Costs of
Ethical Supply Chain Management: Kenyan Flower
Industry Case Study.” Natural Resources Institute
Report No. 2607. Natural Resources and Ethical
Trade Programme. London. United Kingdom.


Davies, R (2000). “The Impact of Globalization on
Local Communities: A Case Study of the Cut Flower


Industry in Zimbabwe.” ILO/SAMAT Discussion
Paper no 13, Action Programme on Globalization,
Area-Based Enterprise Development and
Employment. International Labour Organization.
Geneva. Switzerland.


Dolan, C. and Humphrey, J. (2004). “Changing
Governance Patterns in the Trade in Fresh
Vegetables between Africa and the United
Kingdom”. Environment and Planning A, 36, 491-
509.


Dolan, C., Opondo, M. and Smith, S. (2002).
“Gender, Rights and Participation in the Kenya
Cut Flower Industry.” NRI Report No 2768. Natural
Resources Institute. London. United Kingdom.


Du Toit, A. (2002). “Globalising Ethics: A Case
Study of the Social Technologies of Private
Regulation in the South African Wine Industry.”
Occasional Paper: Land reform and agrarian
change in Southern Africa. Programme for Land
and Agrarian Studies. University of the Western
Cape. South Africa.


Hale, A. and Opondo, M. (2005). “Humanising
the Cut Flower Chain: Confronting the Realities
of Flower Production for Workers in Kenya”.
Antipode 301-323.


4.9. References




56 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


Hatibu, H., Semboja, H., Mbelwa, R. and
Bonaventura, C. (2000). “The Cut Flower Industry
in Tanzania.” ILO Sectoral Activities Programme,
Working Paper WP 148. International Labour
Organization. Geneva. Switzerland.


Hughes, A. (2000). “Retailers, Knowledge and
Changing Commodity Networks: The Case of the
Cut Flower Trade”. Geoforum 31, 175-190.


Hughes, A. (2001a). “Global Commodity
Networks, Ethical Trade and Governmentality:
Organizing Business Responsibility in the Kenyan
Cut Flower Industry”. Transactions Institute of
British Geographers 26, 390-406.


Hughes, A. (2001b). “Multi-stakeholder Approaches
to Ethical Trade: Towards a Reorganisation of
UK Retailer’s Global Supply Chains?.”Journal of
Economic Geography 1: 421-437.


ILO (2000). The World Cut Flower Industry: Trends
and Prospects. International Labour Organization,
Sectoral Publications. Geneva. Switzerland.


ILRF (2003). “Codes of Conduct in the Cut-Flower
Industry.” ILRF Working Paper, September 2003.
Obtained at: www.laborrights.org/projects/
flowers_index.htm


Korovkin, T. (2003). “Cut Flower Exports, Female
Labour and Community Participation in Highland
Ecuador”. Latin American Perspectives 30(4),
18-42.


Korovkin, T. (2005). “Creating a Social Wasteland?
Non-Traditional Agricultural Exports and Rural
Poverty in Ecuador”. Revista Europea de Estudios
Latinoamericanos y del Caribe, Octubre, 47-67.


Korovkin, T. and Sanmiguel-Valderramam (2007).
“Labour Standards, Global Markets and Non-
State Initiatives: Colombia and Ecuador’s Flower
Industries in Comparative Perspective”. Third
World Quarterly 28(1), 117-135.


Malter, A.J., Reijtenbagh, A. and Jaffee, S.
(1999). “Profits from Petals: The Development
of Cut Flower Exports in Southern Africa”, in
S. Jaffee (ed) Southern African Agribusiness:
Gaining Through Regional Collaboration, World
Bank Technical Paper no. 424, World Bank,
Washington DC. USA.


Matthee, M., Naude, W. and Viviers, W. (2006).
“Challenges for the Floriculture Industry in a
Developing Country: a South African Perspective”.
Development Southern Africa 23(4), 511-528.


Morser, A. and McRae, S. (2007). “Growing
Pains: The Human Cost of Cut Flowers in
British Supermarkets.” Report, War on Want.
Development House. London. United Kingdom.


PricewaterhouseCoopers (2007). “Sustainability
Impact Assessment of the EU-ACP Economic
Partnership Agreements– Key Findings,
Recommendations and Lessons Learned.” Report,
PricewaterhouseCoopers. Paris. France.


PricewaterhouseCoopers, (2006). “Sustainability
Impact Assessment of the EU-ACP Economic
Partnership Agreements – Phase Three, Horticulture
in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA).” Report,
PricewaterhouseCoopers. Paris. France.


Sonko, R., Njue, E., Ssebuliba, J.M. and de Jager,
A. (2005). “Pro-poor Horticulture in East Africa
and South East Asia: The Horticultural Sector in
Uganda.” Wageningen University and Research
Centre. Wageningen. The Netherlands.


Tallontire, A., Dolan, C., Smith, S. and Barrientos,
S. (2005). “Reaching the Marginalised? Gender
Value Chains and Ethical Trade in African
Horticulture”. Development in Practice 15 (3),
559-571.


Thoen, R., Jaffee, S., Dolan, S. and Ba, F (2000).
“Equatorial Rose: The Kenyan – European Cut
Flower Supply Chain.” World Bank. Washington
DC. USA.


Tips/AusAid (2005). “Trade Information Brief: Cut
Flowers and Foliage.” Trade and Industry Policy
Strategies (TIPS). South Africa.


USITC (2003). “Industry and Trade Summary:
Cut Flowers.” United States International Trade
Commission (USITC) Publication 3580. Office of
Industries. Washington, DC. USA.


US-LEAP (2007). “A Valentine’s Day Report: Worker
Justice and Basic Rights on Flower Plantations
in Colombia and Ecuador.” Prepared by: United
States Labour Education in Americas Project and
the International Labour Rights Fund, US/LEAP.
Chicago. USA.


Wijnands, J. (2005). “Sustainable International
Networks in the Flower Industry: Bridging
Empirical Findings and Theoretical Approaches.”
LEUVEN, ISHS, October 2005.


Ziegler, C. (2007). Favoured flowers: Culture and
Economy in a Global System. Duke University
Press. Durham. North Carolina. USA.




57ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


Indonesia and Malaysia dominate the production
and trade in palm oil products. Increases in
production from these two countries have led to
palm oil becoming the world’s most important
edible oil product. The commodity has a wide
range of uses in food manufacturing, feed
production, cosmetics and the chemical sector.
The growth in demand for palm oil is due to its
lower price relative to other vegetable oils, its
versatility as an ingredient and its status as a
healthier product. Increases in the volume of
palm oil production in the last decade have
consistently exceeded industry forecasts.


A key issue in palm oil industry is the global concern
for the environmental and social impact of palm
oil plantations and processing facilities in South
East Asia. In the last decade, non-governmental
organisations have actively campaigned against
palm oil producers by highlighting the impact
of their activities on fragile ecosystems and
indigenous communities (Wakker, 1998; Glastra
et al, 2002; Milieudefensie, 2007). NGOs have
encouraged retailers and financial institutions to
press for more sustainable palm oil production
(Friends of the Earth, 2004a). They have also
targeted consumers in the north by linking
their consumption of palm oil products to the
destruction of tropical rainforests and the
habitats of endangered species like the orang-
utan, the Sumatran tiger and the Asian elephant
(Friends of the Earth, 2005). The problem
for NGOs is that, unlike other finished export
commodities, palm oil is an ingredient in food
products, cosmetics, soaps and detergents. The
use of palm oil as an ingredient has made it
more difficult for NGOs and other stakeholders
to encourage consumers to exercise their choice
by purchasing a sustainably produced palm
oil product.


Despite this challenge, NGOs have succeeded in
encouraging numerous private sector organisations
to establish codes of conduct for sourcing palm
oil. In the case of financial institutions, codes


have been developed to ensure that investments
are made in plantations and processing facilities
that meet the goals of sustainability (van Gelder
and Wakker, 2006). Most recently the industry
has established a multi-stakeholder group that
is actively involved in creating mechanisms for
a sustainable palm oil industry. As is the case
with other multi-stakeholder groups, the
organisation faces the problem of having to
negotiate the different interests of NGOs,
retailers, consumers, plantation owners,
processors, refiners, smallholders and indigenous
communities. This multi-stakeholder group faces
an additional problem that is specific to the
palm oil value chain. The structure of the chain
makes it very difficult to trace palm oil from a
plantation to a biscuit, a bar of soap or lipstick
(Glastra et al, 2002, p. 31). Since consumer
choice is fundamental to the process of mobilising
pressure on the industry, a key challenge for this
multi-stakeholder group involves establishing
a credible mechanism for tracing sustainably
produced palm through the value chain.


The first section of this chapter examines the
production and export of palm oil. While there
are developments in the palm oil sector outside
of South East Asia it seems unlikely that the
dominant position of Malaysia and Indonesia
in production and exports will change in the
near future. Papau New Guinea is the third
most important exporter, but this ACP country
only contributes slightly more than one percent
of total world exports. The second section
describes the value chain, the different uses of
palm oil, and recent changes in the structure
of the chain. This section stresses the complex
structure of the chain, which makes it difficult
to trace palm oil from a plantation to the
consumer. The third section examines the codes
of conduct within individual companies involved
in the palm oil industry and the more recently
established multi-stakeholder organisation that
is pressing for a sustainable palm oil industry.
This section argues that the complexity of the


5. SUSTAINABILITY, VALUE CHAINS AND
MULTI-STAKEHOLDER APPROACHES IN
THE PALM OIL SECTOR


5.1. Introduction




58 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


value chain, and the commodity itself, raises
significant challenges for multi-stakeholder
groups in their efforts to promote sustainable


palm oil production. The recommendations
focus on measures that might be taken to
strengthen this multi-stakeholder group.


Malaysia and Indonesia produce over 85 percent
of the world’s palm oil. During the 1990s and the
early 2000s Malaysia maintained the position
of the world’s largest producer and exporter.
Indonesia’s production has, however, grown
more quickly during this period and by 2006
Indonesia had eclipsed Malaysia as the world’s
largest producer of palm oil (USDA, 2007). Other
palm oil producing countries include Thailand,
Brazil and Colombia, but their volumes are
far less than for the largest two producers.
Among ACP countries the largest producers are
Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire
(Table 5.1).


Increases in the volume of palm oil produced
by Malaysia and Indonesia are a result of the
massive expansion of production from the early
1990s. In Indonesia, the area of land under palm
oil rose from 1.1 million hectares in 1990 to
3 million hectares in 2000 and 4.5 in 2008. During
this period the average annual expansion of
production was 190,000 hectares (Teoh, 2002).
Indonesia’s financial crisis in the late 1990s slowed
the expansion of production significantly, but the
rapid expansion has now resumed: according to
one estimate 240,000 hectares were planted in
2002 alone (Wakker, 2005). Indonesia’s Ministry


of Agriculture has set a total target of 9 million
hectares of palm oil plantations (IIED, 2004).
In Malaysia the area under palm oil plantations
also increased dramatically during the decade
of the 1990s: from 1.7 million hectares in 1990
to 4.1 million hectares in 2006 (IIED, 2004).
Given the relatively higher costs of production
in Malaysia, the expansion of plantations has
slowed (Teoh, 2002). Malaysian companies are
now involved in Indonesia where production costs
are significantly lower; Malaysian companies are
also exploring options for palm oil production in
Africa and Latin America.


Amongst ACP countries production has grown
significantly, but off a smaller base when
compared to the dominant two producers. In
Nigeria, total production was around 580,000
tonnes in 1990 and rose to 800,000 tonnes in 2005
while in Côte d’Ivoire production has remained
relatively stable over the same period. Papua
New Guinea’s growth has also been notable:
production has more than doubled between
1990 and 2005 (Table 5.1). While these figures
are impressive, they have not challenged the
dominant position of Indonesia and Malaysia in
palm oil production.


5.2. Global Production, Trade and Consumption


Table 5.1: Palm Oil Production (‘000 tonnes)


Source: Basiron (2007)


Malaysia
Indonesia
Nigeria
Thailand
Colombia
Papua New Guinea
Côted’Ivoire


Brazil
Others
World Total


1990
6,088
2,413


580
232
226
145
270
66


1,000
11,020


1995
8,123
4,220


660
354
388
223
285
75


5,994
20,322


2005
14,962
14,070


800
685
661
310
260
160


1,826
33,733


2005 share
44%
42%
2%
2%
2%
1%
1%
0%
5%


100%


2000
10,842
7,050


740
525
524
336
278
108


5,191
25,594




59ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


Exports of palm oil show a similar pattern (Table
5.2). The two largest producers – Malaysia and
Indonesia – dominate the trade in palm oil with
over 90 percent of global exports (Figure 5.1).
While Malaysia has traditionally dominated
the export trade it has seen its share of global
exports decline from around 53 percent in 2003
to 48 percent in 2006. In contrast, Indonesia’s
share of global exports has increased from
36 to over 43 percent over the same period.
The growth in world exports in the last five
years is therefore largely due to increases in
Indonesian production. Seventy percent of the
total palm oil produced is exported onto the
world market (IIED, 2004). There are several


other exporters including Papua New Guinea,
Jordan and Colombia. Papua New Guinea is by
far the most important ACP exporting country
with 360,000 tonnes of exports; the next largest
ACP exporter of palm oil is Ivory Coast, which
exported 104,000 tonnes in 2007. As an ACP
country, Papua New Guinea has preferential
access to the EU market and there seems to
be some interest from investors keen to take
advantage of the country’s preferential access
to the EU (van Gelder 2002). Several other
countries – including India, Brazil, Nigeria,
Uganda and Suriname – have expressed the
desire to either rehabilitate existing plantations
or start palm oil production, usually in response


Figure 5.1: Palm Oil Exports


Source: Comtrade


Table 5.2: Palm Oil Exports (‘000 tonnes)


Source: USDA 2007


Exports
Malaysia
Indonesia
Papua New Guinea
Jordan
Colombia
Other


2003
11,602
7,856


347
355
188


1,326


2004
12,634
9,621


362
333
222


1,426


2006
12,900
11,600


360
280
225


1,390


2005
12,780
11,135


360
265
213


1,459




60 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


to the opportunity for bio-fuels. Despite these
new developments, the dominance of Indonesia
and Malaysia in the palm oil sector is unlikely to
be challenged in the near future.


The most important palm oil importing countries
are China, the European Union, India, Pakistan
and Bangladesh (Table 5.3). Imports to the
United States and Egypt have increased rapidly
in the last five years. Beyond these countries,
trade is highly dispersed. Global consumption
figures have increased rapidly, largely as a
result of higher demand in developing countries
and the replacement of animal fats in processed
food and feeds with vegetable oils (IIED, 2004).
The growth in palm oil production is occurring
at a far faster rate than the broader edible
oils complex. While palm oil production has
increased at an average rate of 9.5 percent per
year between the late 1990s and the mid-2000s,
the average growth rate for edible oils was only
4 percent (Agritrade 2007). Since productivity
gains have been limited, most of the increase
in production has occurred through increases
in production area and substitution with more
labour consuming and hence relatively less
profitable crops such as rubber.


Palm oil imports to the United States are
expected to increase more quickly as a result
of new food labelling legislation passed in 2006.
The new law requires that food manufacturers
list the amount of trans fat in food products.


However, the most common oil used by food
manufacturers is partially hydrogenated soybean
oil, which has high levels of trans fat. Palm
oil has no trans fat and is regarded as viable
alternative to soybean oil under the new labelling
regime (Brown and Jacobsen, 2005). The major
producing countries – Indonesia and Malaysia –
are aggressively promoting the health benefits
of palm oil relative to other oil seed products.29


Prices for palm oil products are volatile given
that the commodity is traded relatively freely
on global markets. The substitutability of the
different vegetable oils, and the new focus on
bio-fuels, has added further volatility to the
price of palm oil on world markets. The price of
crude palm oil has ranged from USD 240 a tonne
in 2001 to USD 780 in 2007.The most recent
prices for palm oil have shown a rapid increase
in response to its potential role in the production
of bio-diesel.


Key points for global trade, production
and consumption:


Dominance of Indonesia and Malaysia. The
production of palm oil is dominated by Malaysia
and Indonesia. Despite developments in tropical
Africa and Latin America as well as in other
countries in South East Asia, it seems very unlikely
that their dominant position will be challenged
any time soon. The rise of these two countries
is relatively recent. In the 1960s several African
countries played a very important role in the


Table 5.3: Palm Oil Imports (‘000 tonnes)


Source: USDA 2007


Imports
China
EU-27
India
Pakistan


Bangladesh
Egypt
United States
Russian Federation
Turkey


Japan
Other


2003
3,710
3371
3,486
1,297


528
459
281
402
336
450


7,097


2004
4,363
4027
3,725
1,550


757
616
345
594
439
492


7,236


2006
4,900
4300
3,800
1,785


900
780
630
535
510
500


7,610


2005
4,975
4124
2,899
1,796


847
754
600
546
462
494


8,236




61ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


palm oil trade, but since then production
and exports have declined dramatically. Most
palm oil produced in Africa is for domestic
consumption.


Competitive advantage of palm oil. Palm oil
is one of several oil crops: the other main oils
crops being soybean, rapeseed and sunflower.
Palm oil production has a competitive advantage
over these oil seeds in terms of production
costs and yields. Indeed, palm oil requires ten
times less land to produce the same volume
of oil as soybeans (Teoh, 2002). The other
advantage for palm oil producers is that they
are not vulnerable to consumer concerns
around genetically modified organisms, which
is a potential problem for soybeans. In 2006,
production of palm oil surpassed soybean oil
production for the first time (USDA, 2007).


Palm oil demand. The competitive advantage
of palm oil is predicted to lead to higher levels
of world production. The demand is likely to be
driven by its advantage over other oils in terms
of its lack of trans fats, which is predicted to
increase demand for palm oil in the United
States and other developed markets.30 In the
developing world, the rapid transition from
grain to fat in diet patterns, the demand for
processed food products particularly in growing
urban areas is predicted to play a role in driving
world production higher. Finally, the potential
for palm oil as the raw material for bio-diesel
is also encouraging new investments in palm
oil plantations. The increase in global palm oil
production is likely to be an issue for a range
of NGOs concerned about its environmental and
social impact in tropical countries all the more
so the crop is a perennial crop with long lasting
potential effects.


The palm oil value chain is complex due to the
range of conditions under which it is produced,
the different stages of processing and refining,
and the bulk transportation of different palm oil
products (Figure 5.2).


Palm oil is produced by smallholder farmers and
on very large industrial plantations of between
10,000 and 25,000 hectares. In Malaysia
and Indonesia, the plantations have been
established on state owned land and companies


5.3. The Global Value Chain for Palm Oil


Figure 5.2: Palm Oil Chain


Source: Friends of the Earth 2004a


Fresh palm fruit bunches from the plantation


In-country mill


Crude palm oil (CPO)


Refinery


Palm kernels


Crushing plant


Palm kernel oil (PKO) Palm kernel meal (PKM)


Various palm oils and fats Various palm kernel oils and fats Animal feed


Food industry Cosmetics and
detergent industry


Chemical industry Livestock industry


Biscuits
Cakes
Chips
Chocolate
Cooking oil
Crisps
Frying fat


Ice cream
Margarine
Mayonnaise
Pastry
Snacks
Others


Cosmetics
Detergent
Soap


Paint
Grease
Chemicals
Others


Meat products




62 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


are granted concessions to use the land for
palm oil production.31 In Papua New Guinea,
plantations have been established on land
owned through a customary rights framework.
Establishing palm oil production on this land
requires consent from local communities. The
amount of land under smallholder production
in Malaysia and Indonesia varies considerably.
While smallholders control up to one third of
the land under oil palm in Indonesia, small-
scale production in Malaysia accounts for
only 11 percent of the area devoted to this
commodity (Teoh, 2002). The total contribution
of smallholders to palm oil production globally
is estimated to be 20 percent; the remainder is
produced on large-scale estates in South East
Asia, South America and Africa (IIED, 2004).


Palm oil plantations and processing factories are
usually located in close proximity as the fresh
fruit bunches (FFBs) must be milled within 24
hours of being harvested. The milling companies
are usually involved in the primary production
of palm oil, and farming typically occurs on a
large scale. Processing factories process palm
oil produced by other large plantations and
by groups of smallholders. It is estimated that
at least 4,000 hectares of palm oil production
is required to support a crude palm oil mill
(Wakker, 2005).


Smallholder farmers who supply palm oil to
the mills may do so independently or they may
receive support from the milling companies in
the form of credit guarantees, planting material,
fertilisers and pesticides. As is the case in other
contract farming relationships, these loans are
paid back by deductions from crop price. In
some countries, state support is provided for
smallholder associations, as is the case of the
Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) in
Malaysia (Fold, 2000b). FELDA was established
in the mid-1950s with the aim of addressing
the problem of rural poverty in Malaysia. The
organisation is currently responsible for over
1 million hectares of palm oil and assists its
smallholder members with access to finance
and other support mechanisms. According to
the Vermeulen and Goad (2006, 31), FELDA
has “grown into a well-organized force in the
Malaysia Palm Oil Industry, and in conjunction


with other supporting bodies is well positioned
to influence the plantation sector to improve
the adoption of best practice”. Indonesia
also provides support for smallholder palm
oil producers through low interest loans and
minimum prices. In Papua New Guinea the
majority of smallholders are integrated into
nucleus estates, which offer small scale farmers
financial and extension support.


Palm oil seeds are milled to produce crude palm
oil, palm kernel oil and palm kernel meal. Palm
oil yields are very high: one hectare of palm oil
produces between 2 and 7 tonnes of crude palm
oil and a smaller volume of palm kernel oil,
which is extracted from the kernels (Wakker,
2005). The crude palm oil must undergo a
further stage of processing before it can be
consumed. This second stage involves refining
the crude palm oil, a process that extracts
fatty acids, colour and other impurities. The
refining process transforms the crude palm
oil into Refined Bleached Deodorised Palm Oil
(RBDPO), which is now ready to be used in food
products. The final stage in processing involves
fractionation of the refined palm oil to produce
liquid palm olein and a solid product called palm
stearin. The liquid fraction is used in baking
and frying while the solid fraction of refined
palm oil is often used in the manufacture of
margarine (Teoh, 2002).


The kernels of the palm oil seed are crushed to
produce palm kernel oil and palm kernel meal.
Palm kernel oil is used in various non-food
consumer items including soaps, detergents and
lubricants. The main use of palm kernel meal is
in protein rich animal feeds.


The refining of crude oil can take place in
the country where the palm oil is produced
or it can be shipped in tankers to another
destination. In some cases, individual companies
are responsible for primary production, crude
oil milling and refining. In other cases refiners
are independent companies based in Malaysia,
Indonesia or in other countries where there is
a large demand for refined palm oil (e.g. the
Netherlands, China, India). Malaysia has greater
capacity for refining crude palm oil (CPO), while
Indonesia tends to export most of its production
as CPO (IIED, 2004). The difference between the




63ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


two countries is largely as a consequence of the
Malaysian government’s emphasis on producing
finished palm oil products (Fold, 2000a). While
crude palm oil exports carry a 10 percent export
tariff, there is no tariff on refined palm oil
products. State encouragement of downstream
processing through incentives and taxation
systems in Malaysia has led to the establishment
of 46 refining facilities with the capacity to
process 16 million tonnes of crude palm oil a year
(Vermeulen and Goad, 2006).32 The financial
crisis affecting Indonesia may have placed a
brake on efforts to establish the infrastructure
for refining and further processing.


The mills that extract crude palm oil from
the fresh fruit bunches often source the
fruit from several plantations and from many
smallholders (IIED, 2004). When the crude
palm oil is transported from mill to refinery, it
may be combined with oil produced by other
mills. The complexity of the production chain
makes it difficult to trace palm oil products
back to source, which has become an issue for
environmental NGOs pressing for sustainable
palm oil production.


The number of plantations, processing facilities
and refineries in Indonesia and Malaysia is very
large indeed. Yet the ownership pattern is
relatively concentrated with several business
groups controlling most production and palm
oil processing and refining (Wakker, 2005).
An important development in the last decade
has been investments by Malaysian palm oil
companies in refining facilities in the European
Union, India and China. These investments are
allowing Malaysian based companies to manage
the entire value chain, from production through
to final processing.


Investments by palm oil companies are not
restricted to refining and further processing.
Malaysian and Indonesian companies are
investing in other parts of the world in order to
boost their primary production. It was recently
reported that the Indonesian government was
exploring opportunities for investing in palm oil
production in Tanzania, a country that has similar
ecological conditions to Indonesia (Africa News
Network, 8 May 2007). Malaysian companies are


involved in primary production in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Venezuela and Suriname.
Large importing countries like China are also
exploring opportunities in Africa to source
palm oil directly and thereby reduce their
dependence on Malaysia and Indonesia. Joint
ventures between European or North American
palm oil consumers and primary producers in
tropical Africa, Latin America and South East
Asia have been a feature of the industry for
some time. Cargill’s first investments in primary
production were in Indonesia in the mid-1990s
and the company has since then expanded
into Papua New Guinea and Borneo. In total,
it controls 56,000 hectares of land dedicated
to palm oil production in South East Asia.
The growth of the bio-fuels sector is spurring
investments in primary production in Africa and
in Latin America (Friends of the Earth, 2006).


The evidence seems to suggest that the
production, processing and refining of palm
oil are becoming more concentrated and that
large players are becoming involved in various
stages of the chain and in different producing
and consuming markets. When it comes to the
bulk trade of palm oil, the chain is far more
fragmented; it is possible to identify four types
of traders (van Gelder, 2004). First, there are
European trading subsidiaries of Malaysian and
Indonesian companies. Second is a group of
trading companies associated with large palm
oil refiners such as Cargill and Archer Daniels
Midland (ADM). These companies will source from
their own plantations and from other producers.
Third, the major European food, chemical and
cosmetics manufacturers (e.g. Unilever) have
their own trading companies. These companies
source directly from plantations or on spot
markets in Europe. Finally there is a large group
of small independent traders and brokers who sell
to European refineries that have not developed a
trading function (van Gelder, 2004).


Most palm oil processing companies have a lower
profile than the end users of palm oil products.
In the food sector the most important consumers
of palm oil are brand name manufacturers of
processed items such as ice cream, biscuits,
snacks and cereals. These companies are well-
known to consumers as their products are




64 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


heavily advertised and include prominent brand
names such as Cadbury Schweppes, Kellogs,
Danone, Kraft and McCains (Teoh, 2002). Palm
oil is also used in non-food products including
detergents, soaps, shampoo and cosmetics. As
is the case with food products, these users are
branded companies like the Body Shop, Unilever
and Marks & Spencer.


Key points on the palm oil value chain:


Palm oil and traceability. The structure of
the palm oil value chain makes it very difficult
to achieve traceability from plantation to
final consumer. Production is in the hands of a
large number of plantations and hundreds of
thousands of smallholder farmers. Processing
mills often source from their own plantations
and from both independent and company
supported smallholders. Crude palm oil exports
are transported in bulk containers due to the
high costs involved and the need to maintain the
quality of the product. These containers usually
source from many different palm oil mills.
Refineries also source from a range of suppliers,
which makes traceability extremely difficult.
Even large integrated companies like Unilever
source from their own plantations, from other
producers and from spot markets in Europe. The
challenge of traceability, which seems central
to the development of a sustainable palm oil
industry, is considerable.


Vertical integration. Palm oil producers,
refiners and other enterprises involved in the
palm oil sector are investing both upstream and
downstream in the palm oil value chain. There
are three types of investments: first, companies
are investing in primary production as a way
of securing access to new sources of palm oil.
Investments by Malaysian companies in South
East Asia (especially Indonesia), Latin America
and Africa are in response to the relatively
higher costs of production and labour shortages
in Malaysia.33 The Malaysian government
has shown its support of such endeavours by
decreasing duties for imported crude palm oil
and by continuing to limit duties on refined palm
oil exports. Second, palm oil manufacturers in
countries like Malaysia are investing in refining
facilities in their key markets, notably the
European Union, India and China. Third, North


American and European based refiners and
bio-fuel producers have invested in primary
production in Indonesia and other parts of the
tropical world where palm oil production is
possible. An important question is whether these
investments are leading to a less complex chain
structure, which might facilitate traceability for
some companies that are vertically integrated
through the production chain.


Branded companies. A notable feature of palm
oil is that although producers, millers, refiners
and traders are largely anonymous to consumers,
the companies that sell food and cosmetic
products are highly visible branded companies.
Branded companies are more vulnerable to
NGO campaigns that reveal unethical sourcing
practices. In the case of both German and UK
companies, the problem is that many companies
seem to have little knowledge of the source
of the palm oil used in the manufacturing of
food, cosmetics and detergents (van Gelder,
2004; Wakker, 2005). Large palm oil producers
and processors based in South East Asia are
increasingly becoming the target of NGO
reports. The situation is, however, changing
with large integrated palm producers also now
becoming the target of NGOs. Most recently,
the world’s largest trader of palm oil (Wilmar)
was accused of illegally logging and burning
forests and violating the rights of indigenous
communities (Milieudefensie, 2007). Wilmar
(2007) responded immediately to the report
by denying all the allegations and outlining its
commitment to corporate social responsibility
in palm oil production.


Chain governance. The palm oil value chain
is producer driven. The dominance of Malaysia
and Indonesia in the production of palm oil has
allowed these suppliers to exercise some control
over global markets (Wakker, 2005). With many of
these companies becoming vertically integrated
they have the potential of further shaping the
market for palm oil products. Yet as is the case in
many other agri-food chains, the growing role of
end-users is beginning to be felt in the palm oil
chain. Concerns over the environmental effects
of palm oil production, and over the welfare of
smallholders and indigenous land owners, has
prompted a range of new initiatives with the goal




65ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


of encouraging sustainable palm oil production
(Down to Earth 2007). The development of codes
of conduct by the private sector and through


multi-stakeholder initiatives is explored in more
detail in the next section.


The environmental, ecological and social
impact of oil palm production and expansion in
South East Asia has been a concern for NGOs,
the private sector and other stakeholders for
over a decade (Miliedefensie, 2007). One of the
first reports on the environmental and social
impact of palm oil production was produced
by the World Wide Fund for Nature in 1998
(Wakker, 1998). The report highlighted the
relationship between the consumption of oil
palm products in Germany and deforestation
and environmental degradation in Indonesia.
Its title – “lipstick traces in the forest” – drew
attention to the way in which German consumers
were implicitly involved in the environmental
and social crisis brought on by oil production
and expansion in Indonesia. The report called
on German companies to reveal their sources
of palm and to develop responsible sourcing
strategies as a way of encouraging sustainable
land use in palm production. For consumers the
message was clear: they could not “evade their
responsibility for protecting the Indonesian
forest” (Wakker, 1998, 2).


The German WWF report revealed the multiple
impacts of palm oil production including the
destruction of the rainforests, which was
reducing the habitat of endangered species
including the orang-utan, the Sumatran tiger
and the Asian elephant. Clearing land for oil
palm plantations through burning leads to
multiple environmental problems including the
release of greenhouse gasses and the spread of
fires to other forests not designated for palm oil
production (Wakker, 1998).


Since the late 1990s, many of the companies
involved in the palm oil sector have released
codes of conduct for palm oil sourcing. Unilever
is a major producer and importer of palm oil
products and has had a code for sustainable palm
oil since 1998. The code includes measures to
ensure the sustainability of its own plantations


and its suppliers while it “works to improve
quality and sustainability” (Unilever, 2003).


Other companies that have introduced codes
of practice for the sourcing of palm oil include
Nestlé, Migros, and the Boots cosmetics chain.
The Body Shop’s response was dramatic: the
company declared that it was shifting its
source of palm oil from South East Asia to
an environmentally responsible producer in
Colombia. In its press release, the Body Shop
declared that it made this “pioneering move
as a response to the continued and rapid
destruction of the world’s ancient rainforests
caused by irresponsible palm oil production”
(The Body Shop, 2006).


Financial institutions supporting palm oil
production have also released codes of practice
for investments in palm oil plantations,
processors and refineries (van Gelder and
Wakker, 2006). For example, the Dutch based
Rabobank is an important financier of palm oil
developments in South East Asia. The company
has a detailed corporate social responsibility
policy and is in the process of developing specific
strategies for palm oil including a supply chain
policy for its customers (Srivastava, 2005).


Codes of conduct are not restricted to the private
sector. The World Bank’s International Finance
Corporation has initiated a new programme
for improving the sustainability of palm oil
production and several other commodities. The
new initiative is called the Biodiversity and
Agricultural Commodities Programme (BACP)
and it has a budget of USD 50 million, which
it will disburse over ten years. The funds will
be used to provide technical assistance for
better management practices, to increase the
demand for sustainably produced products
and to support the work of multi-stakeholder
programmes involved in promoting sustainable
commodity production (IFC, 2007).


5.4. Towards Sustainable Palm Oil Production: Company Codes and
Multi-stakeholder Groups




66 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


The need for a multi-stakeholder group for
sustainable palm oil production was recognised in
the early 2000s. While private sector codes could
be effective for individual companies, there was
a need to develop a more participatory strategy
that involved representation from industry,
NGOs, states, smallholders and indigenous
communities. In 2002, several large private
companies involved in palm oil production and
a number of NGOs came together to discuss the
potential of forming a multi-stakeholder group
to promote sustainable palm oil production. The
participants in this first meeting held in 2002
included EU and South East Asian-based palm
oil producers and refiners (Aarhus United, Gold
Hope, Malaysian Palm Oil Association), European
retailers (Sainsbury’s and Migros) and NGOs
(World Wide Fund for Nature). The outcome of
this meeting was the Roundtable for Sustainable
Palm Oil (RSPO). The membership of the RSPO
now includes 55 palm oil producers, European
retailers and NGOs. The goal of the RSPO (2004,
1) is to create an “acceptable credible definition
of sustainable palm oil production and use and
the implementation of better management
practices that comply with this definition”.


Over the last five years the RSPO has focused
on three initiatives: the development of
agreed criteria for sustainable palm oil
production; a smallholder task force; and
measures for traceability in the palm oil value
chain. In October 2005, the RSPO released its
principles and criteria for sustainable palm
oil production (RSPO, 2005). There are eight
key principles and criteria: commitment to
transparency; compliance with applicable laws
and regulations; commitment to long term
economic and financial viability; the use of best
practice by growers and millers; environmental
responsibility; responsible consideration of
employees and communities affected by oil
palm production; responsible development of
new plantings; and commitment to continuous
improvement (RSPO, 2005). These principles
are being pilot tested in plantations and mills
in palm oil producing countries.


The second key initiative of the RSPO is a
smallholder task group. Given the significance
of smallholders in palm oil production, the RSPO


decided to establish a task force to address
the specific needs and problems facing small-
scale palm oil producers. Smallholder palm oil
producers were also likely to face problems in
implementing the sustainability principles and
criteria and the role of the task force was to
play a role in finding ways to assist smallholders
in meeting the goal of sustainable palm oil
production. As Colchester (2006, 1) noted, the
principles and criteria were developed “mainly
with large-scale holdings in mind” and there
was thus an urgent need to address the specific
problems facing smallholder farmers. The
task force is led by an Indonesian NGO (Sawit
Watch) and the United Kingdom-based Forest
Peoples Programme. In the last two years,
the smallholder task force has translated the
principles and criteria into indigenous languages
and has conducted research on the complexities
involved in implementing sustainable production
amongst small-scale farmers. The task force
has also organised several meetings where
smallholders have been able to raise general
problems facing this sector including land rights,
access to credit, and the effect of pesticides on
women workers.


The RSPO’s third initiative has focused on the
palm supply chain (ProForest, 2005; RSPO, 2007).
In order to translate the benefits of sustainable
production to producers and millers, the RSPO
has recognised the importance of distinguishing
between “sustainable” and “unsustainable”
palm oil. The problem in the case of palm oil
is that it is usually the “hidden ingredient” in a
wide range of consumer goods. Although labelling
of food ingredients is now mandatory in most
developed markets, when palm oil is present in
biscuits, ice cream and other consumer goods
the label usually states vegetable oil, stearin
or olein rather than palm oil. In other words,
current labelling practices make it difficult for
consumers to identify the existence or otherwise
of palm oil.


There is a second problem in tracing palm oil
back to particular sustainable or unsustainable
production sites. Unlike coffee, tea and fruit
products, which can be traced back to individual
production sites, the complexity of the palm
oil value chain makes it very difficult to trace




67ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


back to a plantation or even a country. Palm oil
mills in producer countries usually process fresh
fruit bunches from their own plantations, but
also from other plantations and from a large
number of independent and company assisted
smallholders. Crude and refined palm oil is
transported in bulk and, given the high cost of
transport, from a number of suppliers to ensure
that the containers are full. The challenge of
traceability persists even for larger companies
that are in involved in several stages of the chain.
The larger companies source from their own
plantations and mills, but they also source palm
oil products from independently owned mills.
The companies will know little about whether
the palm oil from these mills and plantations is
produced sustainably (ProForest/ISIS, 2003).


The RSPO has recognised the need to establish
credible mechanisms for traceability (WWF,
2005a). Indeed, the success of the RSPO
initiative depended on consumers being able to
distinguish between palm oil produced under the
RSPO principles and criteria from non-accredited
palm oil. At the 2004 Roundtable meeting in
Jakarta, the RSPO stated that traceability
was “absolutely critical to the success of the
criteria since they are much more likely to be
widely implemented in plantations if there is
a clear market demand” (RSPO 2006, 3). Palm
oil producers have echoed this sentiment. The
head of New Britain Palm Oil based in Papua
New Guinea has argued that the principles were
more likely to succeed if there was a financial
incentive for producers, which in turn depends
on an effective mechanism for traceability
(WWF, 2005b).


In the last three years, the RSPO has explored
various measures for traceability in the palm
oil value chain. In 2006, the RSPO released its
final report on the issue and suggests three
mechanisms: segregation, mass balance and
“book and claim”. The segregation option is
the most straightforward, but the most difficult
to implement given the complexity of palm
oil production and transportation. It involves
separating RSPO accredited plantations, mills
and refineries from non-RSPO produced palm
oil at every stage in the chain, including bulk
transportation. The second option, mass balance,


involves calculating the relative proportions
of RSPO and non-RSPO palm oil. This balance
is maintained through the production chain so
that consumers know the relative proportion
of accredited palm oil in the product. The
mass balance is not a traditional traceability
mechanism in that palm oil is only identified
as RSPO or non-RSPO oil. The mass balance
approach does not provide any information on
the site of production or processing. The “book
and claim” approach also fails to trace palm
oil along the value chain. Instead, this method
involves the use of a tradable certificate for
producers accredited by the RSPO, which is sold
separately from the oil itself.


The RSPO held several meetings with stakeholders
on the various traceability options in 2006.
While the segregation option is clearly the most
credible of the three options, it was estimated
that it would increase production costs by as
much as 20 percent (RSPO, 2006). This option
also depended on having larger volumes of palm
oil and would be easier to implement where a
company is involved in all stages of production.
The mass balance approach was regarded as less
credible given that palm oil from RSPO accredited
plantations and mills would be mixed together
with palm oil produced in a way that does not
meet the organisation’s principles and criteria.
In addition, calculating the relative proportions
of palm oil along the chain is a complex
process and is likely to further undermine the
credibility of this approach. Yet the production
cost implications of mass balance were lower (5
percent higher) and are thus likely to be more
attractive to producers. The “book and claim”
approach was supported by many industry
stakeholders, but there was a concern that the
method requires a commitment to transparency
for it to be credible.


At the most recent RSPO meeting it was agreed
that, although in principle a full traceability
mechanism was the most desirable, in practice
the mass balance approach would be employed
as a “stepping stone” towards a more credible
traceability mechanism. In the mass balance
approach, importers and consumers will know
the relative proportion of RSPO and non-RSPO
accredited palm oil (RSPO, 2007).




68 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


Jenkins (2001) has provided a detailed review and
assessment of codes of conduct. While company
codes of conduct have been around for a long
time, the contemporary form originates from
the early 1990s and is associated with the rise of
global value chains and the growing awareness
of the impacts of suppliers on the environment
and labour in the developing world. Companies
implementing codes of conduct are often branded
companies and are concerned that negative
publicity will damage their reputation among
consumers. Improvements in communication,
especially the Internet, have ensured that
violations of the environment or labour can
be quickly transmitted to NGOs and other
stakeholders, which have played an important
role in publicising the negative activities of
companies and their suppliers.


The debate on codes of conduct has focused on
their scope and content, how they are monitored
and their impact on developing country suppliers
(Vallejo and Hauselman, 2005; Hamilton
and Hassel, 2006). With regard to scope and
content, researchers and NGOs have highlighted
the limited scope of the codes and the weak
content, particular with regard to social and
environmental considerations. In some cases the
“company codes are little more than general
statements of business ethics with no indication
of the way in which they are to be implemented”
(Jenkins 2001, 26). In terms of monitoring, critics
have argued that there is limited monitoring of
the codes; where monitoring does happen, it is
not carried out by independent agents.


Despite these problems, the codes of conduct
represent a positive development in global trade.
First, the development of codes for complex
supply chains suggests that companies now
recognise their responsibility in the activities of
supplier companies. Second, the ability of NGOs to
mobilise activity around prominent brand names
shows that northern consumers are now aware
of the potential impact of their consumption
choices. Third, there is evidence that codes have
led to improvements in the environment and in
conditions for those involved in global supply
chains including smallholder farmers and farm
workers (see chapter on cut flowers).


For Jenkins, the most effective codes are
those that are complementary to government
regulations and which also allow workers and
other groups to organise collectively. These
tend to be multi-stakeholder codes rather than
individual company codes. He also argues that
codes of conduct “should be seen as an area
of political contestation, not as a solution to
the problems created by the globalization of
economic activity” (Jenkins 2001, iv-v).


The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm oil has the
potential to transform the image of the palm oil
sector. It has representation from a wide range
of industry participants including retailers,
producers, processors and financial institutions.
In terms of the code content, the RSPO has
developed an extensive set of principles and
criteria for sustainable palm oil production,
which are now being tested in palm oil producing
countries. In addition, the organisation has
recently introduced a specific initiative to
assist smallholders in meeting the principles
and criteria. Finally, it has recognised the need
to establish credible mechanisms for supply
chain traceability.


The challenge facing this multi-stakeholder
organisation is one of establishing a credible set
of standards for sustainable palm oil production
while at the same time gaining the support of the
industry. Already the RSPO is finding it difficult
to balance the interests of NGOs, retailers and
palm oil producers. For instance, although it has
the support of some major NGOs – including the
World Wide Fund – there are several prominent
NGOs that have refused to join the RSPO. One
of these is the Friends of the Earth (FOE, 2004b,
2), who have declared the RSPO’s statements
regarding the social and environmental impact
of palm oil production “seriously understates
the extent of the problem”. Against the Grain
has been equally vociferous in its condemnation
of the RSPO’s approach to palm oil production
(Against the Grain, 2006). The RSPO’s refusal
to consider limiting palm oil production raises
questions, for this organisation, on the RSPO’s real
commitment to sustainable production. The key
difference between these NGOs and those that
are signatories of the RPSO is their scepticism on


5.5. Multi-stakeholder Groups, Value Chains and Sustainable
Production




69ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


whether an industry-led organisation can regulate
palm oil production (also see Wakker, 2005).


The tensions between the different constituencies
represented within this multi-stakeholder
organisation have also appeared in the work of
the smallholder task force. The task force is led
by two NGOs – the Indonesian SawitWatch and the
UK-based ProForest. These NGOs are signatories
of the RSPO, but they also continue to produce
reports that are highly critical of the activities of
palm oil producers especially in Indonesia. During
the most recent meeting of the smallholder task
force in January 2007, plantation companies
expressed their concern that the two NGOs were
members of the task force, but were nonetheless
producing reports that were critical of the
activities of palm oil companies.


The last issue in terms of the RSPO’s work relates to
its ability to transform the palm oil industry. In the
original discussion paper that led to the formation
of this multi-stakeholder group, the organisation
set itself the goal of transferring “best practice
from the best plantations to the poorer performing
ones” (ProForest 2005, 1). This depends of course
on the organisation’s effectiveness in gaining the
confidence of industry players. It also depends,


crucially, on market forces playing their role
in terms of encouraging companies to shift to
sustainable production methods.


In terms of market forces, it is important to note
that the largest proportion of palm oil exports
from South East Asia go to China and India. Only
15 percent is exported to European Union. The
difficulty facing the RSPO is that the Chinese and
Indian markets are relatively less receptive to
the ideas of sustainable production. It is possible
that value chains destined for the European Union
will have a stronger sustainability component,
while those supplying other markets will not be
under as much pressure to meet sustainability
requirements. This problem has the potential
of occurring at other scales: Colchester and
Jiwan (2006) have raised the concern that unless
smallholders are supported in their efforts to
meet the RSPO’s principles and criteria, they
could be excluded from RSPO markets. In this
way, the RSPO “will serve as an engine of social
exclusion, encouraging standards to be raised on
estates but not on smallholdings” (Colchester
and Jiwan, 2006). The key challenge facing the
RSPO is in convincing the industry as a whole to
embrace sustainable palm oil production.


Supporting traceability initiatives. This chapter
has argued that ensuring traceability is central
to the RSPO’s efforts in establishing a sustainable
palm oil industry. Although the RSPO has
undertaken some research on traceability, further
support could be provided to the organisation
through research support on traceability
initiatives in other bulk commodities. The new
EU regulations on traceability for genetically
modified organisms, for example, is generating
much discussion and debate on traceability. A
possible policy response would be to ensure that
labelling guidelines in the EU are made clearer
and more explicit for palm oil used in food and
other commodities.


Support for smallholder farmers. There is
considerable field-based research on smallholder
palm oil producers (e.g. Koczberski, 2007). This
research has provided detailed analyses of
how smallholders can be assisted in improving


their livelihoods and in producing more
sustainably. Strategies can be developed from
these case studies, which can then be deployed
more broadly.


Pressure on palm oil importers. The RSPO
initiative focuses on improving the sustainability
of palm oil production within the industry. A
possible policy response would be to explore
ways of ensuring that European importers are
pressured to import sustainably produced
palm oil. This would ensure that importers
are sourcing from plantations that practice
sustainable production and are supportive of
smallholder farmers.


The RSPO multi-stakeholder forum. As a multi-
stakeholder forum, the RSPO is mandated to
improve the sustainability of palm production. In
other sectors where multi-stakeholder initiatives
have emerged (e.g. the cut flower sector),


5.6. Recommendations




70 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


weak auditing methods have undermined the
credibility and sustainability of the forum and
its efforts to establish sustainable production
methods. Support in the form of training and
capacity building should be offered to the
RSPO as a way of building the credibility of
the sustainable palm oil initiative. The RSPO
could also be assisted in terms of managing


fragmentation and conflict, which is a common
problem in multi-stakeholder groups. There
are international agents (e.g. the International
Labour Organization) and other private or public
institutions that have considerable experience
in assisting organisations in their efforts to build
consensus among stakeholders with divergent
interests (Humphrey, 2007).


Palm oil has become the most important edible oil
in the world. Production is likely to be stimulated
by growing demand for processed food and other
commodities and also by the growth of the bio-
diesel sector. Despite the positive outlook for the
palm oil sector, there is growing concern over
the environmental and social impacts of palm oil
plantations, especially in South East Asia, but also
in other tropical areas where production might
be re-established. NGOs have been extremely
successful in highlighting the negative impact of
palm oil production, which is of great concern to
individual enterprises and producer associations.
Individual companies have responded with their
own codes of conduct and there is now a multi-
stakeholder group for sustainable palm oil. The
challenge for this new multi-stakeholder group,
which importantly has a mandate that includes
support for smallholders, is to develop credible
systems of sustainable production that are
accepted by NGOs, retailers and consumers. A


key problem is the way the commodity is used
in production:


Palm oil does not reach the market as an end
product, but as an “invisible component” of
numerous food and chemical products. This puts
palm oil in a different position as compared
with other tropical products such as timber,
coffee and tea. With these latter commodities
it is much easier to make consumers aware of
ecological and social production aspects.


An additional problem is the structure of the
value chain, which makes it extremely difficult
to trace palm oil from the plantation to the final
consumer. While the multi-stakeholder group
is currently working to find a solution to the
problem of traceability, its efforts are likely to
lead to partial solutions in the short term. In
the longer term, it may be that the RSPO is only
successful in accrediting a portion of palm oil
producers who supply particular markets.


5.7. Conclusion


Against the Grain (2006). “Sustainable
Monoculture? No, Thanks!”. Against the Grain,
June 2006. Obtainted at: www.grain.org/agt/,
Accessed 5 October 2007.


Agritrade (2007). “Oil Products: Executive Brief”,
September 2007. Obtained at: http://agritrade.
c ta . i n t/en/commod i t i e s/o i l _p roduc t s/
executive_brief, accessed 3 October 2007.


Basiron, Y. (2007). “Palm Oil Production through
Sustainable Plantations”. European Journal of
Lipid Science Technology 109, 289-295.


Brown, E. and Jacobson, M.F. (2005). Cruel
oil: How Palm Oil Harms Health, Rainforest
and Wildlife. Centre for Science in the Public
Interest. Washington DC. USA.


Colchester, M. (2006). RSPO Reaches Out to
Smallholders. Round Table on Sustainable Palm
Oil. Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia.


Colchester, M. (2007). RSPO Principles and Criteria
for Sustainable Palm Oil Production, Guidance for
Smallholders, Task Force on Smallholders, RSPO.
Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia.


Colchester, M. and Jiwan, N (2006). Ghosts on our
Own Land: Indonesian Oil Palm Smallholders and
the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Forest
Peoples Programme and SawitWatch. United
Kingdom.


Down to Earth (2007). “Smallholders and the
RSPO”. Down to Earth Newsletter No. 72, March
2007.


5.8. References




71ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


Esder, C. (2005). “Getting to Grips with
Sustainability”. Focus on Surfactants, February
2005, 1-2.


Fold, N. (2000a). “Globalisation, State Regulation
and Industrial Upgrading of the Oil Seed Industries
in Malaysia and Brazil”. Singapore Journal of
Tropical Geography, 21(3), 263-278.


Fold, N. (2000b). “Oiling the Palms: Restructuring
of Settlement Schemes in Malaysia and the
New International Trade Regulations”. World
Development 28(3), 473-486.


Friends of the Earth (2004a). Greasy Palms – Palm
Oil, the Environment and Big Business. Friends of
the Earth (FOE). London. United Kingdom.


Friends of the Earth (2004b). “Sustainable
Palm Oil”. Paper presentation to the Second
Roundtable Meeting on Sustainable palm oil,
Session III: Projects and Activities on Sustainable
Palm Oil, 5-6 October. Kuala Lumpur.


Friends of the Earth (2005). The Oil for Ape
Scandal: How Palm Oil is threatening Orang-utan
Survival. Friends of the Earth. London. United
Kingdom.


Friends of the Earth (2006). Briefing: The Use of
Palm Oil for Biofuel and as Biomass for Energy.
Friends of the Earth. London. United Kingdom.


Glastra, R., Wakker, E. and Richert, W. (2002). Oil
Palm Plantations and Deforestation in Indonesia:
What Role do Europe and Germany Play? World
Wide Fund for Nature. Gland. Switzerland.


Hamilton, I. and Hassel, L.G. (2006). “Patterns
in Forming Industry Standards for Environmental
and Social Responsibility: A Comparative Analysis
of Swedish and Malaysian Multi-stakeholder
Initiative Formations”. Hamilton Symposium
Paper, 20-22 November 2006. Ghana.


IFC (2007). Biodiversity and Agricultural
Commodities Programme (BACP), Preserving
Biological Diversity within Agricultural Production
Landscapes: Transforming the Markets for Palm
Oil, Cocoa, Soybean and Sugarcane. International
Finance Corporation, World Bank.


IIED (2004). Better Management Practices and
Agribusiness Commodities. Phase Two Report:
Commodity Guides Research for IFC Corporate
Citizenship Facility and WWF-US. International
Institute for Environment and Development.
London. United Kingdom.


Jenkins, R. (2001). Corporate Codes of Conduct:
Self-Regulation in a Global Economy. Technology,
Business and Society Programme Paper Number
2. United Nations Research Institute for Social
Development.


Koczberski, G. (2007). “Loose Fruit Mamas:
Creating Incentives for Smallholder Women in
Oil Palm Production in Papua New Guinea” World
Development 35(7), 1172-1185.


Milieudefensie (2007). Policy, Practice, Pride and
Prejudice: Review of Legal, Environmental and
Social Practices of Oil Palm Plantation Companies
of the Wilmar Group in Sambas District, West
Kalimantan, Indonesia. Joint publication of
Miliedefensie, Lembaga Gemawan and KONTAK
Rakyat Borneo, Campaign: Globalisation and the
Environment, Amsterdam. The Netherlands.


ProForest (2003a). “Palm Oil, Forests and
Sustainability”. Discussion paper for the
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, 25 July
2003. Kuala Lumpur.


ProForest (2005). Developing a Mechanism for
Palm Oil Traceability from Plantation to End User.
ProForest. UK.


ProForest/ISIS (2003b). New Risks in Old Supply
Chains: Where Does Your Palm Oil Come From?
From Lipstick to Ice Cream: A Survey of Palm
Oil Use and Supply Chain Management, Survey
undertaken by ISIS Asset Management. London.
United Kingdom.


RSPO (2004). “New Global Initiative to Promote
Sustainable Palm Oil”. Roundtable on Sustainable
Palm Oil, 8 May 2004. Kuala Lumpur.


RSPO (2005). “RSPO Principles and Criteria for
Sustainable Palm Oil Production”. Round Table
on Sustainable Palm Oil. Kuala Lumpur.


RSPO (2007). Report, Technical Meeting on
Traceability of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, 12
September.


Sawit Watch & Forest People’s Programme (2005).
“Land Acquisition and Palm Oil Development in
Indonesia”. Presentation to the 3rd Roundtable
of the RSPO, 22nd to 24th November, 2005.
Singapore.


Srivastava, R. (2005). “The Role of the Financial
Sector in Promoting Sustainable Palm Oil”.
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, RT3,
November 22-23. Singapore.




72 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


Steege, E. (2007). “Ugandan Palm Oil Project
About to Bear Fruit”. Food & Beverage Reporter.
October 2007.


Teoh, C.H. (2002). “The Palm Oil Industry in
Malaysia: From Seed to Frying Pan”. Research
paper prepared for WWF Switzerland, Geneva.


The Body Shop (2006). Press announcement:
The Body Shop Announces New Initiative on
Sustainable Palm Oil to Tackle Global Threat to
Biodiversity, The Body Shop, United Kingdom.


Unilever (2003). Palm Oil: A Sustainable Future.
Unilever.


USDA (2007). Palm Oil: World Supply and
Distribution. Foreign Agricultural Services.
United States Department of Agriculture.
Washington DC. USA.


Vallejo, N. and Hauselmann, P. (2005). Multi-
stakeholder Governance: A Brief Guide. Pi
Environmental Consulting. Pully. Switzerland.


Van Gelder, J and Wakker, E. (2006). People,
Planet, Palm Oil? A Review of the Oil Palm
and Forest Policies Adopted by Dutch banks.
Campaign on Globalisation and the Environment.
Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth). The
Netherlands.


Van Gelder, J.W. (2002). Australian economic
links with the oil palm sector of Papua New
Guinea. Humane Society International.
Washington DC. USA.


Van Gelder, J.W. (2004). Greasy Palms: European
Buyers of Indonesian Palm Oil. Friends of the
Earth. London. United Kingdom.


Vermeulen, S. and Goad, N. (2006). Towards
Better Practice in Smallholder Palm Oil
Production. International Institute for
Environment and Development (IIED). London.
United Kingdom.


Wakker, E. (1998). “Lipstick Traces in the
Rainforest”: Palm Oil, Crisis and Forest Loss
in Indonesia, World Wide Fund for Nature,
Germany.


Wakker, E. (2005). Greasy Palms: The Social
and Ecological Impacts of Large Scale Palm
Oil Plantation Development in South East Asia.
Friends of the Earth. London. United Kingdom.


Wilmar International Limited (2007).
Announcement: Wilmar’s CSR Policies and
Practices, 4 July 2007.


WWF (2005a). “Breakthrough at Third Round
Table Conference on Sustainable Palm Oil”.
Forest Conversion News, World Wide Fund for
Nature, No 9, December 2005, 1.


WWF (2005b). “The RSPO Gave us a Destination
to Travel to”. Interview with Simon Lord, Head
of Technical Services, New Britain Palm Oil,
Papua New Guinea. Forest Conversion News,
World Wide Fund for Nature, No 9, December
2005, 2.




73ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


The commodities discussed in this report range
from bulk produced products that are used as
an ingredient in food to individually wrapped
cut flowers. The value chains in each of the
commodities show considerable variation in
structure and governance. In this concluding
chapter, four key themes emerging from the
commodity studies are drawn together.


New investment patterns. The changing trade
regime for the four commodities is leading to
new patterns of investment. In the cut flower
sector there is evidence that investors are
moving from Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and
Tanzania to Ethiopia, which is an LDC country
and therefore has access to the EU market
through the “Everything But Arms” trade
initiative. The Ethiopian government is also
offering very substantial incentives to potential
investors in the cut flower industry. In the sugar
sector there are both regional and international
investments taking place in order to benefit
from the changing trade preference landscape
(e.g. in Southern Africa). These investments
should be monitored to ensure that they are
sustainable and have an impact on poverty
alleviation. They should not be associated
with a “race to the bottom” where investors
are shifting production from one location
with higher costs or stricter regulations (e.g.
environmental, social) to another location
where labour is cheaper and environmental and
other regulations are not important.


Support for mitigating trade preference
erosion. A key theme in the sugar and banana
chapters is the issue of support for countries
affected by trade preference erosion. The
support for banana producers has a long history
and much can be learned from the experience
– both positive and negative – of 13 years of
support from the EU to ACP banana exporters.
Two issues stand out. First, the support for
diversification efforts seems not to have had a
substantial impact on less competitive banana
producers. This is maybe because of the
problems inherent in attempting to diversify
economies that have been dependent on a single


export commodity. The problem is greater when
one is dealing with small island economies.
Second, the support for banana exporters in the
period after 2000 depended on an assessment
of whether the industry was “competitive” or
“uncompetitive” based on production costs in
relation to EU market prices. This is a very blunt
approach because it fails to acknowledge the
complex relationship and dynamics between a
country’s export industry and world market
prices. In the case of bananas it also led to the
support structures ignoring the potential of
niche markets. The banana experience provides
important lessons for current efforts to support
ACP sugar exporters. First, it is important to
acknowledge the challenge of developing
effective diversification programmes. These
need to go beyond piecemeal projects, which
seem to characterise how banana producers
were supported. There is a need for effective,
realistic and well-funded diversification
programmes that can provide a viable economic
alternative to sugar production. Second,
the support for sugar producers needs to
consider the wide range of possible options for
diversification within sugar production.


Value chain governance. The banana and cut
flower chains have become buyer-driven, with
supermarkets or other buying agents playing
a more important role in chain governance.
The growing role of buyers has coincided with
a greater emphasis on the environmental and
social conditions under which bananas, palm
oil and cut flowers are produced. Producers
supplying supermarkets are under greater
pressure to meet quality and food safety
standards as well as a wide range of social and
environmental certification systems. These
pressures shape who can participate in the
chains and the conditions for farmers and farm
workers in the chain. It is significant that two of
the commodity studies highlight supply chains
that are less demanding of suppliers. In the cut
flower chain, research suggests that exporters
who supply the auctions have more leeway
in hiring practices and improving working
conditions. The opposite problem happens in


6. CONCLUSION




74 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


the palm oil value chain: the group involved in
promoting sustainable palm oil are concerned
that their efforts will be limited because the
main buyers of palm oil are India and China.
These are markets that do not have NGOs
urging consumers to consume sustainable palm
oil. The difference within global value chains
and its relationship to social and environmental
codes is an important area of research.


Multi-stakeholder groups and codes of conduct.
In two of the commodities – cut flowers and


palm oil – multi-stakeholder groups play an
important role in the value chain. Although
there is no formal multi-stakeholder group in
the banana chain, there are many codes of
practices for companies and producers. The
role of codes and multi-stakeholder groups is
becoming more important in global trade as
value chains become increasingly buyer-driven.
A key issue is to improve their credibility and
their capacity to manage the widely divergent
interests of actors in the value chain.




75ICTSD Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development


ENDNOTES
1 Own calculations using Comtrade data.
2 As Gibbon notes, the concept of commodity dependent developing country is used frequently in the literature on the commodity


crisis, but is rarely defined. He defines a commodity dependent developing country as one that has “50 percent or more of all
merchandise exports are made up of non-oil commodities” (Gibbon, 2006, 10).


3 Costa Rica’s diversification is perhaps most impressive. In 1970 exports of bananas, coffee, sugar and beef made up 61 percent
of export earnings. By 2000 these four commodities represented only 12 percent of export earnings (Nathan, 2003).


4 Own calculations from Comtrade.
5 Own calculations from Comtrade.
6 Reported on 14 August 2007 (www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=5690 accessed 30 August 2007).
7 In 2003 Asda (owned by Walmart) was able to slash the price of bananas by up to 25 percent in an effort to draw customers


away from its competitors (BananaLink, 2003).
8 Food Industry News, 30/07/2007 EU offers banana tariff cut to soothe Latin America (www.flexnews.com/pages/10101/


Banana/European Union/ accessed 29 August 2007).
9 The quota was initially set at €100 per tonne, but it was reduced to E75 per tonne in 1995 (NERA/ODI, 2004).
10 According to Moberg (2005) the increase in marijuana production in the Caribbean is largely due to the efforts of former


banana farmers.
11 Vidal (2007) reports that “Money is going into run-down schools, the banana sheds are being repaired and the farmers can


scarcely believe the turn round in their fortunes”.
12 An example of this is the recommendations provided by PASS (2004). They argue that fair trade and other niche marketing


initiatives “should be privately financed to avoid skewing investment decisions away from commercial considerations” (PASS
2004, 2). This recommendation ignores the extent to which support for banana producers was most successful when it was
done in conjunction with private sector initiatives (see Goodison 2007).


13 “Banana wars” The Observer, 13 March 2005.
14 Mitchell (2004) estimates that 160 countries produce sugar from sugar cane or beets.
15 See: “EID Parry teams up with Cargill for sugar joint venture”, The Hindu, 25 April 2006.
16 In a recent FAO study cited in Mitchell (2005), the price of sugar on world markets is expected to increase by between 30 and


40 percent under full trade liberalisation, but would decrease as Brazil and other sugar exporters responded to the higher
sugar prices. Indeed, it is not inconceivable that exporters like Brazil might respond pro-actively to expected price rises,
which would effectively dampen potential increases in world sugar prices.


17 St Kitts & Nevis ceased sugar production in 2005.
18 Bureau et al (2007) have analysed the pattern of processor restructuring in the EU. While they note that a large number of


processors closed, or are scheduled to close, many of the quotas were transferred to other operations rather than being
withdrawn. This goes some way to explaining why production volumes continue to be far lower than planned under the reform
programme.


19 Guyana is promoting the production of high quality Demerara sugar for the Caribbean and other specialty sugar markets, and
both Guyana and Belize are increasing their capacity to use sugar for electricity co-generation. Guyana is also considering the
establishment of a refinery to meet Caribbean demand for white sugar and prospects for expanding sugar cane cultivation for
the production of ethanol.


20 Belize has strenuously contested this conclusion, arguing that the authors of the study did not consult fully with the Belize
Sugar Industry.


21 This analysis is based on a report by Stephen Thornhill and summarised by Agritrade (2007).
22 A key question in the document is whether “the sugar industry, possibly after restructuring, could be sustainable in the future


market environment”. This underlines the EC’s determination not to support sugar sectors that are unlikely to be competitive
following the ongoing reform of the CMO for sugar.


23 Oxfam (2005a, 4) has pointed out that the trade dimension aspects are “potential and may not be realised”.
24 The demand for fairly traded products has increased dramatically in the last decade. According to the Fair Trade Foundation,


the consumption of Fairtrade products in 2006 was 42 percent higher than the year before (Fairtrade, 2007). For products
like coffee and cocoa, the increases have been even more dramatic. The extent to which these increases can be sustained is
subject to much speculation. With regard to organic food, the demand in the EU and the US continues to outstrip supply.


25 Kenya started exporting to the US in 2001 (USITC, 2003).
26 The decision to eliminate tariffs on cut flowers in the US was a measure aimed at encouraging Latin American countries to shift


out of the production of narcotics and into other commodities like cut flowers (Ziegler, 2007).
27 The growth of cut flower production in Ethiopia is in part due to very generous incentives and tax rebates offered to both


local and international investors. Some of the investments in new farms have come from Kenya and Uganda as well as from
farmers in Zimbabwe who have had their land seized under the fast track land reform programme (www.volkskrantblog.nl/
bericht/153287, accessed 20 September 2007).


28 Blumenthal and Gow (2006) report that companies in Ecuador have established successful contract farming relations with
small scale flower producers.


29 The claim that palm oil is a healthy alternative is controversial. For a detailed review of the evidence see Brown and Jacobsen
(2005). It is ironic that during the late 1980s the American Soybean Association launched a campaign against palm oil imports
claiming that they increased the risk of heart disease (Fold 2000b).


30 Some company investing in the US to take advantage of the expected demand for palm oil products.




76 Charles Mather — Value Chains and Tropical Products in a Changing Global
Trade Regime


31 In Malaysia companies own the land after it has been converted.
32 The taxation system, which encouraged local processing as opposed to raw material exports was established in the mid-1970s


(Fold, 2000a).
33 In Uganda and Tanzania palm oil production is in the hands of the locally owned company Bidco. This enterprise produces


edible oil and other palm oil based products for consumption in East Africa. Expansion of palm oil production is happening in
partnership with major players in the palm oil sector including Wilmar and ADM (Steege, 2007).




SELECTED ICTSD ISSUE PAPERS


Trade and Environment
Goods and Services and Sustainable Development: Domestic Considerations and Strategies for WTO Negotiations.
Policy Discussion Paper, 2007.
Technology Transfer Issues in Environmental Goods and Services: An Illustrative Analysis of Sectors Relevant
to Air-pollution and Renewable Energy.
Issue Paper No. 6 by Lynn Mytelka, 2007.
Building Supply Capacity for Environmental Services in Asia: The Role of Domestic and Trade Policies.
Issue Paper No. 5 by Aparna Sawhney, 2007.
An Overview of Key Markets, Tariffs and Non-tariff Measures on Asian Exports of Selected Environmental Goods.
Issue Paper No. 4 by Rokiah Alavi, 2007.
Trade in Environmental Services: Assessing the Implications for Developing Countries in the GATS.
Issue Paper No. 3 by Colin Kirkpatrick, 2006.
Options for Liberalising Trade in Environmental Goods in the Doha Round.
Issue Paper No. 2 by Robert Howse and Petrus von Bork, 2006.


Dispute Settlement and Legal Aspects of International Trade
Compliance and Remedies against Non-Compliance under the WTO System: Towards A More Balanced Regime for All Members.
Issue Paper No. 3 by Virachai Plasai, 2007.
Access to Justice in the WTO: The Case for a Small Claims Procedure, A Preliminary Analysis.
Issue Paper No. 2 by Håkan Nordström and Gregory Shaffer, 2007.
Appeal Without Remand: A Design Flaw in the WTO Dispute Settlement System.
Issue Paper No. 1 by Joost Pauwelyn, 2007.


Trade in Services and Sustainable Development
Maritime Transport and Related Logistics Services in Egypt.
Issue Paper No. 8 by Ahmed F. Ghoneim, and Omneia A. Helmy, 2007.
Opportunities and Risks of Liberalising Trade in Services in Pakistan.
Issue Paper No. 7 by Abid A. Burki, Issue Paper No. 7, 2007.
Regulatory Principles for Environmental Services and the General Agreement on Trade in Services.
Issue Paper No. 6 by Massimo Geloso Grosso, 2007.
Opportunities and Risks of Liberalizing Trade in Services in Mozambique.
Issue Paper No. 5 by Alberto Teodoro Bila, Hélder Chambal, Viriato Tamele, 2007.
Opportunities and Risks of Liberalizing Trade in Services in Tanzania.
Issue Paper No.4 by Daima Associates Limited, National Consultant, 2007.


Intellectual Property Rights and Sustainable Development
Intellectual Property and Competition Law: Exploration of Some Issues of Relevance to Developing Countries.
Issue Paper No. 21 by Carlos Correa, 2007.
Intellectual Property Provisions in European Union Trade Agreements: Implications for Developing Countries.
Issue Paper No. 20 by Maximiliano Santa Cruz S., 2007.
Maintaining Policy Space for Development: A Case Study on IP Technical Assistance in FTAs.
Issue Paper No. 19 by Pedro Roffe and David Vivas with Gina Vea, 2007.
New Trends in Technology Transfer: Implications for National and International Policy.
Issue Paper No. 18 by John H. Barton, 2007.


Fisheries, International Trade and Sustainable Development
Fisheries, International Trade and Sustainable Development.
Policy Discussion Paper, by ICTSD, 2006.
Aquaculture: Issues and Opportunities for Sustainable Production and Trade.
Issue Paper No. 5 by Frank Asche and Fahmida Khatun, 2006.
Market Access and Trade Liberalisation in Fisheries.
Issue Paper No. 4 by Mahfuz Ahmed, 2006.
Trade and Marketplace Measures to Promote Sustainable Fishing Practices.
Issue Paper No. 3 by Cathy Roheim and Jon G. Sutinen, 2006.
Fisheries Access Agreements: Trade and Development Issues.
Issue Paper No. 2 by Stephen Mbithi Mwikya, 2006.


Trade and Sustainable Energy
Trade, Climate Change and Global Competitiveness Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Development in China and Beyond.
Selected Issue Brief No.3, 2008.
Intellectual Property and Access to Clean Energy Technologies in Developing Countries: An Analysis of Solar Photovoltaic,
Biofuel and Wind Technologies.
Issue Paper No. 2 by John H. Barton, 2007.
Climate, Equity, and Global Trade.
Selected Issue Briefs No. 2, 2007.
The WTO and Energy: WTO Rules and Agreements of Relevance to the Energy Sector.
Issue Paper No. 1 by Julia Selivanova, 2007.
Linking Trade, Climate and Sustainable Energy.
Selected Issue Briefs, 2006.


These and other ICTSD resources are available at http://www.ictsd.org/pubs/series.htm.




ICTSD’s Programme on Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development aims to promote food
security, equity and environmental sustainability in agricultural trade. Publications include:


• Trade Effects of SPS and TBT Measures on Tropical and Diversification Products.
Issue Paper No. 12 by Anne-Célia Disdier, Belay Fekadu, Carlos Murillo and Sara A. Wong


• Tropical and Diversification Products Strategic Options for Developing Countries.
Issue Paper No. 11 by Santiago Perry, 2008.


• Implications of Proposed Modalities for the Special Safeguard Mechanism:
A Simulation Exercise.
Issue Paper No. 10 by Raul Montemayor, 2007.


• Trade and Sustainable Land Management in Drylands.
Selected Issue Brief, 2007.


• A Comparison of the Barriers Faced by Latin American and ACP Countries’ Exports of
Tropical Products.
Issue Paper No. 9 by Jean-Christophe Bureau, Anne-Celia Disdier and Priscila Ramos, 2007.


• South-South Trade in Special Products.
Issue Paper No.8 by Christopher Stevens, Jane Kennan and Mareike Meyn, 2007.


• The ACP Experience of Preference Erosion in the Banana and Sugar Sectors: Possible
Policy Responses to Assist in Adjusting to Trade Changes.
Issue Paper No.7 by Paul Goodison, 2007.


• Special Products and the Special Safeguard Mechanism: Strategic Options for
Developing Countries.
Issue Paper No. 6 by ICTSD, 2005.


• Lessons from the Experience with Special Products and Safeguard Mechanisms
in Bilateral Trade Agreements.
Issue Paper No. 5 by Carlos Pomareda, forthcoming.


• Methodology for the Identification of Special Products (SP) and Products for
Eligibility Under Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) by Developing Countries.
Issue Paper No. 4 by Luisa Bernal, 2005.


• Special Products: Options for Negotiating Modalities.
Issue Paper No. 3 by Anwarul Hoda, 2005.


• Tariff Reduction, Special Products and Special Safeguards: An Analysis of
the Agricultural Tariff Structures of G-33 Countries.
Issue Paper No. 2 by Mario Jales, 2005.


• The New SSM: A Price Floor Mechanism for Developing Countries.
Issue Paper No. 1 by Alberto Valdés and William Foster, 2005.


For further information, visit www.agtradepolicy.org.


ABOUT ICTSD


Founded in 1996, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) is an
independent non-profit and non-governmental organization based in Geneva. By empowering
stakeholders in trade policy through information, networking, dialogue, well-targeted research
and capacity building, the centre aims to influence the international trade system such that it
advances the goal of sustainable development.




www.ictsd.org




Login