Last month’s Trade Ministers’ decision at COTED to the incremental protection of regionally produced sugars when it meets the standards required by regional users of sugar was discussed at this week’s meeting of Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) Directors.
Recognizing that the future of these important industries lies in the full regional integration of CARICOM produced sugars into CARICOM supply chains, SAC agreed to accelerate investment to produce higher quantities of quality, food grade sugar for this purpose.
Several regional industries in Belize and Guyana have already embarked on significant investment programmes aimed at meeting regional demand. Already the region producers almost double CARICOM’s annual sugar demand, but two thirds of that demand continues to be filled with extra regional imported sugar dumped into the CARICOM market tariff free, forcing CARICOM producers out of their own market.
SAC industries have agreed to make further investments to ensure regionally produced sugar is of a quality suitable for industrial users of sugar. This follows an independent study produced for the CARICOM Secretariat that proved the widespread use of plantation white and other direct consumption sugars in regional and global supply chains. The COTED decision guaranteeing Treaty protection for regional sugar once this is achieved helps to underpin that investment.
SAC also discussed the continuing importation of brown sugar from outside the region without full application of the Common External Tariff. This practice has massively diluted the value of the regional market for regional sugar producers. COTED agreed this practice should stop forthwith. A new monitoring mechanism of sugar flows also agreed at COTED will enforce the correct use of Treaty protections moving forward. SAC deliberated on the principles this monitoring mechanism should embrace.