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Mar 29, 2006

U.S. increases sugar quota to Belize

Story PictureIt may not be as economically exciting as the discovery of oil, but in the sugar industry even the smallest piece of good news is important. The latest positive development comes in the form of an increase in the quota for Belizean sugar entering the United States. The twenty-five percent boost for the coming year brings our quota to almost nineteen thousand long tons. According to Belizario Carballo of the Belize Sugar Industry’s finance office, the U.S. has indicated it will be paying twenty-one cents per pound, which is about three cents over the current world market price of eighteen cents. By comparison, the European Union, has been paying substantially more than the United States, around twenty-seven cents U.S. per pound for Caribbean sugar. Carballo says the quota increase from the United States translates to around a half a million U.S. dollars more in earnings for Belizean producers. The United States has increased its quota not only to Belize, but three other Caribbean producers: Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, citing a shortage in the market due to adverse weather conditions in the southern U.S. in addition to other countries not meeting their tariff quotas. In addition, Brazil, the largest sugar producer in the region no longer exports as much sugar as it once did, due to a shift towards ethanol production. Carballo told News Five that despite the recent announcement of a substantial thirty-six percent cut by the European Union, the outlook for Belize’s sugar industry remains positive and that B.S.I. and industry stakeholders are committed to sugar production for the long term. Carballo says the E.U. cut in sugar subsidies will not hit Belize all at once, but will be phased in, with the first reduction of five percent spread over the next two years. This should give Belize a chance, he says, to bolster its position in the world market and lobby for increased access to Europe to make up for any anticipated shortfall. He says the industry is exploring a number of options including energy production.

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