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Sugar exports from African Caribbean and Pacific countries to decrease significantly

Preferential sugar prices at the European sugar market fell at the start of this month and sugar exports from African Caribbean and Pacific, ACP, countries are expected to decrease significantly. That is what the Belize Ambassador to the European Union, Dylan Vernon, who is also the Chairman of the ACP Sugar Subcommittee, is highlighting. An article published in Jamaica’s The Gleaner newspaper on Monday October 23 states that Vernon, who spoke on the impact of the EU reform on ACP sugar exports to the EU at the 20th Meeting of the ACP Ministerial Trade Committee, stated 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,”.  Another crucial point made by Vernon was on the Cardino Study on Accompanying Measures for former Sugar Protocol countries (AMSP). While this has provided some support to ACP sugar producers to adjust to the change in the market environment, Vernon says the contribution has been varied and many ACP countries were unable to achieve all the goals set out in their National Adaptation Strategies.  In Belize, the Accompanying Measure for Sugar Program has provided some assistance to the sugar industry in various areas. Through the program, support was provided to the Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute, SIRDI, to conduct studies at the field level to help improve the industry, road infrastructure improvements were funded within the sugar belt and a diversification program was also conducted in collaboration with the La Inmaculada Credit Union. But several difficulties have presented themselves through the course of implementation for some of these programs. For example, road works for the Progresso Road have been delayed for years and under the Sugar Cane Revolving Scheme, also, under the AMS program, farmers were unable to access funds because of their indebtedness at commercial banks. Some sectors of the industry have also criticized some of the projects under the AMS program saying that the funds could have been better used to prepare industry stakeholders for the current changes instead of spending on roads which they believe have had little positive impact on the industry.