Mixed fortunes for Caribbean sugar and banana sectors

While the sugar producing countries have gained the support of the European Union (EU) Parliament Committee for a proposal to extend the sugar quotas by at least five years, ACP banana producing states have once again called on Europe to “respect” policies that have been reached with them as the EU negotiates trade agreements with other countries that could lead to “further erosion of the benefits offered by the current trade regime under which ACP bananas are imported into the EU”.

The European Commission has already announced plans to introduce a proposal to abolish EU sugar quotas from October 1, 2015, a move ACP countries said would have damaging implications for their respective sugar industries.

Guyana’s Ambassador to Brussels Dr. P.I. Gomes told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) Tuesday that the decision by the EU Parliament Committee “is significant”.

“The ACP Sugar Committee through its intervention with member states has been successful in obtaining the support of the Parliament Committee that the quotas would not be terminated in 2015 but extended to 2020.

“I think this is important given the fact that we do not want to fall into the trap of the great volatility and instability in the sugar market and we would prefer to see the productive use of the investments we have been making in the sugar industries over another five to seven year period,” said Gomes, who is also the chair of the ACP Ambassadorial Working Group for the Future Perspectives of the ACP.

The ACP Council of Ministers meeting here also unanimously adopted a resolution “strongly” proposing that EU country quotas should be maintained “at least until 2020”.

The ACP, which is holding a series of meetings here ahead of a joint meeting with the European Union on Thursday and Friday, said that a Commonwealth commissioned sugar study had confirmed that the end of the sugar quota system “increased the risk of market instability and removed the two most effective market management tools”.

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