The World Trade Organisation had ruled that European Union preferential sugar relations with the Caribbean breached global trade regulations. Forcing the EU to take drastic measures against the Caribbean countries by ending the preferential prices on sugar, which took effect in October 2017. According to the Sugar Association of the Caribbean, SAC, the Caribbean countries are still reeling from the effects of that decision and continue to seek solutions within its own regional market to solve the problem. To make matters worse, more than two-thirds of sugar consumed within CARICOM comes from extra-regional sources, placing the sugar from the region at a further disadvantage. Last week, SAC Directors met in Belize to discuss the future of the regional sugar supply. Love News spoke with William Neal, the Communications Officer of SAC who said that if the problem is left unchecked it could negatively affect the future of the region’s sugar.
William Neal – Communication Officer of SAC: The Sugar Association of the Caribbean usually meets twice a year and so this is not an unusual meeting but the fact that it was held in Belize at a time when we need to look at how the changes in Europe is affecting us. We have now a year and a half that has passed so we are living the reality and are trying to chart a way forward in terms of what do we do as a region to secure our own market. A lot of conversation is looking not only at the supply side, in terms of what we can do for the market and what we are producing as the four countries that are remaining. We also want to make sure that we have the market, most other markets are secured for their producers and we want to ensure that CARICOM is ensured for the regional producers as well. We do know that ⅔ of the sugar coming into CARICOM comes from outside the CARICOM region. Extra-Regional countries such as Guatemala and Colombia are pumping sugar in here. The market is broken in our view and we think that it is important that we look at CARICOM and try to get some policy changes that would ensure the sustainability of our own regional sugar producers. The sugar coming in from places like Guatemala and Colombia have a closed market but what they are doing to some people would be dumping because they are selling the sugar into the Caribbean for about 50% of what they would be able to get on their own market.”
Neal added that currently four CARICOM countries produce sugar, namely, Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados and Belize.