By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor
Concerned players in the region’s sugar industry have appealed for governments to introduce tariffs to protect it in light of a drop in production quotas and prices.
At the recent sixth meeting of Caribbean Stakeholders on Sugar in Jamaica, they argued that some level of protection should be imposed in anticipation of the drop in exports in the coming months.
That is when production quotas in the European Union (EU) will be reduced and the industry is expected to suffer the backlash.
“Governments around the world give tariff protection to their own sugar industries, yet in the Caribbean we are currently losing out to imported sugar from outside the region. It is time to modernize our approach to sugar,” the region’s stakeholders said in a statement.
They reasoned that the net cost effect of the tariff would affect consumers minimally but would be a significant boost to the sector.
“It will give our industry the ability to attract investment, mechanize the industry and provide quality jobs and a sustainable future for the sector,” the statement continued.
According to Program Manager at the CARICOM Secretariat, Nisa Surujablly, the regional sugar industry must become competitive to survive when the production quotas in the EU decreases.
“Survivability of these industries, after the removal of production quotas in the EU on September 30 2017, will in no small measure be a function of improved competitiveness, securing more remunerative markets, value addition, an enabling policy regime within the Caricom Single Market and Economy, and, not lastly, practical and pragmatic diversification options,” she said.
Managing Director of The Caribbean Council, Chris Bennett, believes there is still a future for the sugar industry, but agreed with stakeholders that the framework for trade needs to be modernized to reflect that the Caribbean should not depend on the EU market.
“The trade and tariff policies required are straightforward and applied all around the rest of the world. There is an urgent need for the CARICOM Single Market and Economy to put in place the equivalent protections as soon as possible,” Bennett advised.