Caribbean sugar body alarmed over revenue drain from EU initiative
Projected loss of earnings in 2001-3 US$11M

Stabroek News
November 8, 2002

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The directors of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) have again expressed alarm that the body’s allocation of Special Preferential Sugar (SPS) exports to the European Union was being significantly reduced.

“The reduction in SAC’s SPS allocation,” according to a release from the association, “is a direct result of the EU’s unilateral “Everything But Arms” (EBA) initiative under which new duty-free access to the EU sugar market has been granted to Least Developed Countries (LDCs), entirely at the expense of developing African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.”

“SAC countries lost US$3 million in revenue in 2001/02 as a result of the EBA, (and) the projected loss in 2002/03 is US$11 million,” the association said.

The Board of Directors of the SAC had its 138th meeting in Belize last Thursday and Friday, and in attendance were the London representatives of the association as well as representatives of Tate & Lyle Europe Ltd, the CARICOM Secretariat and the Belize sugar industry.

According to the release, intra-regional trade in CARICOM this year is projected at 74,000 tonnes, the highest ever achieved, and this growth is expected to continue in 2003 with the trade estimated at 120,000 tonnes.

Sugar production in SAC countries is projected at over 800,000 tonnes for the forthcoming crop, which is an increase over this year’s actual production of 753,304 tonnes, the release said.

It stated also that exports to the EU, the United States and other countries this year were 615,422 tonnes.

Meanwhile, the association notes with concern the challenge to the EUs sugar regime mounted by Brazil and Australia in the form of a request for consultations on various aspects of the regime.

The SAC says it “believes that this action could disrupt the EU Sugar Regime and therefore seriously undermine the value of preferential ACP access to the EU market.”

Therefore, its members will urge their governments to remain closely involved in the process in order to ensure that their interests are fully protected, the release stated.

The directors renewed their commitment to support the regional lobbying effort as they enter the critical phase of challenges to their existing markets.

Further, they reviewed CARICOM preparations for ongoing negotiations regarding the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Round, the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and Post-Cotonou arrangements.

And the directors also discussed the ingredients they would like to see in the new EU sugar regime to apply from 2006, stressing the importance of a properly managed market continuing rather than a free-for-all, which in their view would not benefit the stakeholders, including ACP developing countries.

The association is following closely the initial phase of discussions between the ACP and the EU on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) as provided for in the Cotonou Agreement.

The directors say they are satisfied that there has been some progress in agreeing on an ACP negotiating formula, and that negotiations are expected to proceed at an all-ACP level for at least a year.

In view of the long-term implications for preferential sales of Caribbean sugar to the EU, the association is emphasizing the need to recognize the special status of the EU Sugar Protocol in any negotiations, the release added.

Roderick Karl James CD of Jamaica was re-appointed to serve as chairman of SAC for the year 2002/2003. Other directors are:

E.LeRoy Roach (Barbados), J. Montalvo (Belize), Vic Oditt (Guyana), C. Kelly (St. Kitts & Nevis) and W. Washington (Trinidad & Tobago).

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