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Oct 4, 2019

COTED Wraps Up; What is in it for Belize’s Sugar?

Five days of meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development in Belize wrapped up today. CARICOM hosted the regional meetings to discuss and plan for trade, agriculture and fisheries related matters.  The sessions, led by CARICOM secretariat representatives, as well as ministers of member states, included participation of private sector partners, other policy makers and organizations such as I.C.C.A., F.A.O., CARDI, C.R.F.M.  At today’s closing, Minister of Agriculture Godwin Hulse told the press that three main recommendations came out of the main COTED discussion today, chief among those, is the position to take the sugar issue to the next COTED meeting in November with the hope that Belize will be able to get its white plantation sugar into CARICOM.  Hulse explains the recommendation and what follows next.

 

Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture

“We came away with three, I thought, very important issues. One was a declaration on sugar, which for Belize is terribly important, which puts it on the agenda for the full COTED sometime in November. It is a matter that the Caribbean producers have been seriously interested in for years to get it on the agenda so some determinations can be made for the way forward for marketing sugar within the region and that is plantation white.   We had a sugar minister’s meeting yesterday which was principally the ministers from the producing countries, Belize, Guyana, Barbados, Suriname, Jamaica and sitting in was minister from Grenada. Out of that came, what I would call, a communiqué, which fed into today’s meeting which is the official COTED agriculture. These recommendations then will be forward to COTED, which is trade, because it is a trading issue not a production issue, and it will be fed into that meeting in November, which hopefully decisions are taken to adopt the recommendations. The recommendations are basically three; one is to ensure that brown sugar, which is already CET protected continues to be protected within the region. There are some allegations of leakages and we didn’t get into that in detail but it is to ensure that brown sugar continues to be sold in the region because there is really no reason to buy brown sugar from outside the region outside of the price, must pay the duties.  The other aspect was a monitoring mechanism, some mechanism to be developed to monitor this process and ensure compliance. But the more important one is to ‘include refined white sugar on the commodities list for ineligible conditional duty exemption.’ It is a long statement, but it simply means it is not an automatic waiver you will need to apply if you wanted to get refined white sugar and that is the issue around which this whole thing turns. The good thing is we got it on this meeting and the issue moves forward now to the COTED meeting in November at which time the ministers there will take a final decision.”


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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