BREXIT and Belize’s Sugar Industry

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Updated: October 14, 2016

“The uncertainty in the UK’s sugar business has ramifications for its importers; perhaps none more so than Belize” – that is a quote coming out of an online publication dated October 13, 2016.  The BREXIT movement in June 2016 has been seeing some changes in the United Kingdom that will undoubtedly trickle down to other countries as it relates to imports and exports as well as other areas.  In a recent publication from Raconteur Media in London, one of the commodities being looked at is sugar.  The article says that the UK’s sugar industry is facing uncertainty as they begin to detach itself from the European Union.  The European Union has been a major support when it comes to challenges in the international market but now future trade agreements with and for Britain are unclear and complex.  Beet farmers in the UK are now concerned since the product has always enjoyed financial protection from the EU and the farmers may now have to face the rigors of the free market head-on.  The article went on to note that in 2015, the European Union had paid an estimated three billion pounds in subsidies to British farmers and there is no assurance that the UK budget will allot those monies for them now.  It went on to note, quote, Belize is able to export tariff-free into the EU, under a programme that permits least developed countries to access European markets.   These imports have been supported by a cap on domestically produced sugar beet in the EU, which will be lifted in 2017.  In recent years, Belize’s sugar industry has had to cope with inconsistent sugar prices, underinvestment in modern farming practices, and climate change, which has made seasonal rains inconsistent.  However despite its problems, the Belizean sugar trade remains vital to the country’s economy. According to Kenkyl Salcito of a US based NGO which focuses on human rights in global business, if Belize would lose its sugar industry, there would be an economic downturn in the country and devastation in the north as there is no alternative industry in the region that could maintain livelihoods.  The hopes of the Belizean sugar industry have long been hitched to the EU sugar trade. So, with the prospect of increased production capacity for EU beet sugar and the EU sugar cane industry slowly buckling under the weight of trade regulations, 2017 had loomed ominously over Belize.  Fortunately, this tropical nation only sells sugar cane to one member of the EU, and in June that member decided to leave. So with a few strokes of luck, it is possible that Brexit, and the new trading agreements that result from it, could be a lifeline – or at least a band-aid – to Belize’s sugar industry.”  End of quote.  For a full read of this publication, you can log on to Raconteur Media online.