The sugar industry faces some serious challenges ahead following the price cuts in the European market. That’s only one, however, as the changes now push the industry to adapt to competing with other sugar producing countries worldwide which enjoy lower production costs. Additionally, the global market prices fluctuate. To help improve its competitiveness and find new markets, the industry has embarked on the Direct Consumption Sugar project which is being financed by BSI. One of the markets being looked at is the Caribbean market says Communications and Government Affairs Officer at BSI William Neal.
“In November we were at the coted meeting Guyana and what we are trying to do is get the full implementation of the Common External Tariff; the CET on any sugar that is not from within the region. There are only four countries remaining in sugar production and every other region protects it sugar producers and we feel like the Caribbean; the CARICOM should do the same. Fortunately, because of what we have been doing here we are the only country that produces plantation white sugar. With the direct consumption, sugar expansion project will be better able to condition our Sugar and be able to package it to take it directly to the shelves. That’s what we are hoping to do. A lot of work needs to be done CARICOM is not an overnight thing but with the support from the Government of Belize the trade and Ministry and the agriculture Ministry; we think that we can definitely make some gains there and supply the sugar that is needed for the region and that is going to be critical for the survival of our own industry.”
Belize is a part of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean, which is currently seeking support from CARICOM as it prepares to face the coming challenges. The association is advocating for changes necessary for the survival of sugar producers in the region and that includes Belize.
William Neal – Communications and Government Affairs Officer at BSI
“That is key because you have the larger markets like Jamaica and Trinidad that we need to penetrate. Jamaica is still in the sugar industry so it’s an easier sell so when you are talking about going into Trinidad for example who is not in Sugar production; the economics of it is what will matter. So, we have to improve as a country but we also have to lead in terms of the Caribbean to bring everybody onboard. Those within the sugar-producing countries and those who are manufactures because that’s where the conversation needs to happen and that where we are targeting next.
Since preferential sugar prices at the European sugar market fell at the start of October, sugar exports from African Caribbean and Pacific, ACP, countries are expected to decrease significantly. The Belize Ambassador to the European Union, Dylan Vernon, who is also the Chairman of the ACP Sugar Subcommittee, said earlier this year that the new EU sugar policy will also, quote, “erode even further the price preference which has, until now, done much to foster socio-economic development in ACP and LDC countries”.