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Santander’s request for waiver being considered

Santander Sugar Limited has not been granted permission to sell white sugar on the local market. In fact, the Government of Belize issued a cease and desist letter to the company after receiving confirmation that plantation white sugar was being distributed. According to the Ministry of Investment, on May 10 the Ministry was alerted that Santander was distributing plantation white sugar on the local market.  The following day, the Ministry wrote to the company, informing that it must first seek a waiver from the Export Processing Zone Committee in order to enter the local market. On May 18, Santander Sugar wrote the Ministry requesting for its EPZ Certification and Operations Contract to be amended in order to sell sugar on the local market. However, during this period Santander sugar was still being distributed in Orange Walk and Corozal by a company which Minister Tracey Taeger Panton described as a company from the “Vega Conglomerate”. According to a Government press release, this cease and desist letter indicated that the company was in clear violation of the EPZ Act and contrary to what they had been authorized under their Certificate of Compliance. On Monday, officials from Santander met the Ministry and it was confirmed that Santander Sugar sold 750 metric tons of sugar to the local distributor. The Ministry is working with the Customs and Excise Department to get rid of Santander’s sugar from the local market. The Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Commerce is conducting consultations with the Ministry of Agriculture and other relevant stakeholders in its effort to formulate recommendations to the Export Processing Zone Committee on the sale of sugar on the local market by Santander Sugar Ltd. We understand that the Ministry will determine Santander’s request for the waiver within thirty days of receipt. The three cane farmers association have expressed that allowing Santander to sell sugar on the local market will negatively impact cane farmers.