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Aug 5, 2022

PM Says A.S.R./B.S.I. and B.S.C.F.A. Must Find a Solution to Trade Dispute

The news last week was that the ongoing trade dispute between the American Sugar Refinery/Belize Sugar Industries Limited and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association had still not been solved and that neither side seemed willing to move beyond their present position.  A.S.R./B.S.I. has said that it can’t pay more for the bagasse to the B.S.C.F.A. members, but the association has said in turn; show us all the books so we can make that determination on our own.  Today, Prime Minister John Briceño was asked whether the government can intervene any further to bring the dispute to an end.


John Briceño

Prime Minister John Briceño

“Just yesterday I had a long meeting with the Belize Sugar Cane Farmer Association (B.S.C.F.A.) and the week before I met with the management of the B.S.I./A.S.R.  We have made some decisions. The B.S.C.F.A. needs to also understand that the government cannot solve their problems with the stroke of a pen because it is two private entities that are operating. We can only intervene and try to put them around the table for us to be able to find a way where it can be a win-win for everyone. We all understand and we always tell both sides: BSI can’t do without fifty-one percent of the cane or six hundred thousand tons of sugar cane that the members of the B.S.C.F.A. has. But at the same time the members of the B.S.C.F.A. cannot do without B.S.I./A.S.R.  We have to find a middle ground. We are hooked at the hip, we are partners, so we have to try to sit down with both parties and try to work a way forward. I’m optimistic by nature so I do believe that we will be able to find an agreement before the start of the next crop.  B.S.I. is saying, rightly so, they can’t give up twenty million dollars and also, the farmers cannot expect B.S.I. to just hand over twenty million dollars. But what the farmers are saying is okay; let’s look at your expenses – the money that is used to pay expenses to produce the sugar at the top. That number has been increasing over the years. And now farmers are saying let’s take a look at how we get to that number, or let’s see if there can be any other bi-products that can be used. There are so many moving parts.   We will find a way to get both sides to sit down and to rationally go through the issues one by one and to find some sort of middle ground. When you’re negotiating, you have to be prepared to give up something and both sides have to be prepared to give up something so that we can have a middle ground, a common ground for us to have a successful cane season this year.”

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