Sugar industry seeks protection within CARICOM

Caribbean Insight: 17-23 April 2017 Volume 39 Issue 14

Representatives from the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) met with a range of industry stakeholders in March, where they agreed on the need to develop and protect the regional sugar market in light of upcoming changes to Europe’s sugar regime.

The industry proposal, made at a meeting in Kingston, Jamaica on March 23/24, responds to an expected fall in the prices the sugar producers will receive in Europe after October of this year, when most restrictions on EU beet sugar production are removed. These changes, coupled with the eventual impact of Brexit, are expected to lead to a rapid increase in the supply of EU beet sugar, with high-cost CARICOM suppliers losing most if not all of their EU market.

Speaking after the Kingston conference, Karl James, the Chairman of SAC, said that the industry must now urgently refocus its attention on its own market in the region, while simultaneously seeking new markets.

“Governments around the world give tariff protection to their own sugar industries, yet in the Caribbean we are currently losing out to imported sugar from outside the region. It is time to modernise our approach to sugar”, he said.

Mr James also spoke about some of the ideas discussed at the workshop, which was intended to inform CARICOM of future policy options. These include raising awareness amongst CARICOM governments of the need to enforce the existing Common External Tariff on raw sugar and sugar products.

Recognising concerns that this might be seen to impact negatively on consumers, he said that the industry expected the effect on prices to be minimal.

“The net cost effect of tariff protection to consumers will be negligible, but it will give our industry…

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