Brexit the Opportunity
Brexit is an opportunity for the UK government to create real preferential access for sugar industries in ACP and LDC countries that could once again become the engine for development within their national economies and the nations that depend on them. The reform of the European sugar regime from 1st October 2017 has fundamentally affected the value and volume of the trade in sugar from ACP and LDC countries, a trade that remains the backbone of many sugar industries and national economies in some of the poorest countries in the world.
“ACP Sugar" is an organisation representing 19 sugar industries in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) and Least Developed Countries (LDC) and is calling out to the UK Government for:
1. The continued preferential access to the UK market for ACP and LDC origin raw and refined sugars on a duty-free basis
2. The creation of the value of preferential access by the establishment and maintenance of market value via various measures. These measures would need to include, but not be limited to, the retention of a tariff on non-preferential raw and refined sugar at the current EU levels,
3. The recognition of sugar as a “Sensitive Product” requiring “Special and Differential Treatment”, in the establishment of trade policy and in all negotiations and agreements with third countries, most particularly those with the European Union.
4. That the ACP and LDC suppliers be consulted fully during the formulation and establishment of UK trade policies in relation to sugar
ACP Sugar were encouraged by the announcement of 24th June 2017 that the 48 LDC countries would continue to benefit from duty-free access to the UK after Brexit. We continue to urge HM Government to make provision to include those ACP countries that currently benefit from duty-free access to the UK for sugar who are not LDC countries, some of whom have historically been the largest suppliers to the EU.
With only days remaining until the UK leaves the European Union on 29th March 2019, the UK government must put in place regulations that assure continued tariff free access to its market for ACP sugar suppliers. In addition to signing EPAs and implementing its own EBA scheme, the UK’s WTO schedules will include a minimum access tonnage of 372,874 tons of sugar for ACP Countries at zero tariff. Regulations must be in place on 30th March 2019 to give effect to this access obligation and to prevent the potential disruption of a decades-old trade in both unrefined and speciality sugars.
Britain is preparing to leave the EU. This presents HM Government with an opportunity to support its goals for international development and to promote global trade as the most important driver of economic growth for ACP and LDC countries. The UK government should heed the plight of the ACP and LDC cane sugar producing countries and acknowledge the developmental benefits their industries provide by structuring a new trading system which supports them with a sustainable price for their sugar.
This isn’t about the UK giving a subsidy to developing nation sugar producers. It is about giving recognition to the role that sugar plays in their national economies and helping them to stand tall in today’s global economy by offering preference to a world market that is distorted by subsidies in the largest producers/exporters. This would not only acknowledge the development benefits of sugar but would also help create a fairer and more level playing field at a time when the market for ACP Sugar in EU 27 has been substantially eroded by the reform and production supported through Voluntary Coupled Support payments in 11 Member States.
The UK has led the world in its aid commitments and it could do so again on its trade policy.