Sugar industry to address existential threats

The Caribbean sugar industry, ministers and stakeholders are to meet at the end of March to consider how to respond to the existential threat that long planned changes to the European sugar regime and Brexit pose to the industry.

The two-day meeting in Kingston Jamaica, on March 23-24, organised by the Sugar Association of the Caribbean, CARICOM and other regional and international partners including the Caribbean Council, is primarily expected to address changes that will take place this October which will see the EU abolish national sugar production quotas in Europe.

The measure will have the effect of causing the overall volume of EU sugar imports to fall as Europe becomes self-sufficient, and the EU sugar price declines to something approaching the already low world market price, reducing the price paid for all ACP sugar.

Analysts believe that for high cost Caribbean producers – Guyana, Barbados, Belize and Jamaica – and almost all smaller cane producers in the ACP, this potentially spells the end of the EU market, as EU beet farmers who have previously been restrained by quotas expand production, take advantage of much improved yields and industry consolidation, sell without restriction across Europe, and export.

The meeting is also expected to address the challenge that arises out of the UK’s 2016 decision to leave the EU. Britain is expected to notify formally the EU of this later this month.

For the region, which still exports much of its sugar to the UK for refining, the issues involved are likely to prove complicated to address. This is because Europe’s new sugar regime will apply to the UK until 2019 when it is expected to separate formally, making it unlikely that Britain….

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