'Get accustomed to Guyanese sugar'
January 8, 2004
With the sugar crop in Trinidad and Tobago about to begin, Prime Minister Patrick Manning is predicting that the importation of sugar from Guyana will be something Caricom nationals will have to become accustomed to.
A report in yesterday's Trinidad and Tobago Express said the Prime Minister noted that the reality was that Guyana was the only Caricom country and one of the few in the world which was increasing its production of sugar cane.
Manning last week told his post-cabinet news conference; "Guyana is one of the few countries in the world that is expanding its production of cane sugar. Because of the cost of production in Guyana they are able to produce sugar that is competitive with the international price of sugar on the world market. "
He added: "As a consequence of that you are getting the expansion in Guyana and eventually what is likely to happen, all the countries of the region will buy their sugar requirements from Guyana. Trinidad and Tobago is moving in that direction is by no means unusual."
The Prime Minister is reported as saying this was because Guyana had developed the capacity to produce sugar at a competitive price and was now in a position to reap the benefits.
Manning noted, the Express reported, that it was not only Trinidad and Tobago which had decided to reduce significantly its sugar production, but that other traditional producers like Barbados and Cuba were reducing their production of the crop.
On the issue of Trinidad and Tobago importing sugar from Guyana, Manning said; "Guyana is a Caricom country and the Caricom treaty mandates that we move in that direction." He however dismissed suggestions that the 2004 crop was in jeopardy saying it was the customary allegations.
The Prime Minister said: "There has hardly been a year in which the sugar crop has begun without somebody saying that the sugar crop is in jeopardy. The crop is not in jeopardy.
There may be some issues that have to be resolved but it is not in jeopardy in that sense. The farmers will grow cane, the sugar manufacturing company will buy the canes and will grind it and will make sugar from it. That is clear. "
This is the first year that the sugar crop will be grown exclusively by farmers following last year's closure of Caroni.
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has signed an agreement with Guyana to import raw sugar from that country in 2004, to help meet current demands following the closure of Caroni 1975 Ltd.
The agreement was signed on December 24, 2003, in Georgetown, Guyana, by Minister of Trade and Industry Ken Valley and Guyana's Minister of Foreign Trade and International Co-operation, Clement Rohee.
The agreement will allow Trinidad and Tobago to meet the additional requirements of the refinery operated by Sugar Manufacturing Company Ltd (SCML). It was signed following discussions held in Port-of-Spain on December 10, 2003.
The sugar will come from the Guyana Sugar Corpora-tion Inc.