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Mar 20, 2017

With E.U. quota gone, cane farmers must be competitive

Will Belizean cane sugar remain viable on the European market in 2018?  A gradual shift to cheaper beet sugar produced within the European Union will force stakeholders in the local sugar industry to become more competitive with the quality and prices of cane sugar produced for export.  Earlier today, an article published by Bloomberg Market spoke directly to the soon-to-be-expired quota system that is enjoyed by Belize, Jamaica and Mauritius. Duty-free access for approximately one point six million metric tons of mostly raw sugar was shipped to the E.U. during 2015 and 2016. That quantity is the equivalent of half of the E.U.’s sugar imports.  But how will caneros be affected by the pending changes and the expiration of the preferential market? That’s what we asked C.E.O. in the Ministry of Agriculture Jose Alpuche earlier today.

 

Jose Alpuche, CEO, Ministry of Agriculture

Jose Alpuche

“I think the article really brings to our forefront what we have been saying for quite a few years that in October 2017 we would have had liberalization of sugar production in Europe and that is what is coming to the forefront now. It is for this reason that we have been pushing very hard to try to encourage especially the farming community to improve competitiveness that we know that with the Beat sugar being produced in Europe, being produced at home and not having the cost of transportation and indeed in some instanced receiving subsidies that we can’t afford, that we would have competition. What has happened is that we have not lost market access and we will not lose market access as it relates to the trading regime, we have duty free, quota free access to the European market. What will happen that with the liberalization of production offbeat sugar is that they could in effect produce whatever they want and put it on the market and compete with us. So it is a question of competiveness.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What can we do one as a country and two as a Caribbean region to improve our competitiveness in order to be viable in the European market?”

 

Jose Alpuche

“Well we’ve been pushing under the AMS program a direct intervention to the industry had Fairtrade proceeds that they should have utilized to improve better farming practices and improve their competitiveness. But what we can do is continue to push that’s the only way we would survive in the medium to long term is indeed to become cost competitive, so we have to keep pushing for reform especially at the farm level. We’ve been discussing with the industry stakeholders, things like a cleanup of the industry, issues like finally getting around to a proper sense of the industry, better delivery mechanisms, there is quite a bit of room for improvement that we are working with them on, That in the long term will be the core as it relates to survival.”

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