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May 28, 2018

Santander Sugar Faulted for Selling in Local Market

There is a developing story tonight in the sugar industry. Santander, the Spanish sugar miller located in the Valley of Peace area is reportedly selling sugar in the domestic market. That company was granted an Export Processing Zone to produce sugar for export only. But the Santander sugar is being found on the shelves of local supermarkets. Experts in the industry say that ASR/B.S.I. is the only company that has the license to sell sugar in the local markets.  But it boils down to the cane farmers who believe that they are being undermined at a time when they are fetching lower markets for sugar sold internationally.  This afternoon, Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association Branch Chair Alfredo Ortega said that a buyer from Cayo has already indicated that he will stop sourcing sugar from Tower Hill.  The association has asked for a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture, Godwin Hulse.

 

On the Phone: Alfredo Ortega, Branch Chair, B.S.C.F.A., Orange Walk

“Well not only north, but we have heard that sugar is being sold all over the country, but here in the north, according to what we have received, sugar is being sold in Chinese stores. We had a meeting with B.S.I. a week ago in which they informed us that there were some business people from the west that called to cancel the arrangement that they had before to get sugar from B.S.I.”

 

Duane Moody

“Sir so what is the concern? That these people are selling sugar at a cheaper price which undermines cane farmers in the north?”

 

On the Phone: Alfredo Ortega

“That is one. The other issue is that according to the act, B.S.I. is the only company in the industry that has the market to sell the sugar in country, local consumption sugar. We asked those questions to the Minister in regards to Santander, when Santander was coming in—if Santander will be given permission to sell sugar in the local market and they assured us that no that will not happen because Santander is coming in but their sugars will be transported internationally.”

 

Duane Moody

“So will there be any sanctions brought against them? Did the minister say whether that will come into effect?”

On the Phone: Alfredo Ortega

“Well really we have not had a meeting with the minister as yet. I know that a letter was sent on Friday, but as yet a response has not been sent to us to have that meeting because the meeting was set for today at two p.m. But really I don’t know what transpired; if any response was given because I didn’t hear from our chairman as yet.”

 

We are also told that Government is aware of the breach to the EPZ, but what sanctions if any are under consideration is not known.

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