The history of sugar and trade with the UK are closely linked and have evolved over centuries so much so that, when the UK surrendered its trade policy to the EEC in 1974, it negotiated, as part of the Accession Treaty, a Sugar Protocol. This Protocol maintained and sustained, for a list of ACP countries, a traditional trade that had existed for many years.
The EU has continued to successively reform its sugar regime and eventually renounced the Sugar Protocol with effect from 2009 and granted duty-free and quota free access to a wider group of countries. Since 2009, the EU has continued to grant additional access under new Free Trade Agreements and in October 2017 completed the reform of the sugar regime by removing domestic quotas and thus any restrictions on the amount of domestically produced sugar that can be sold in the EU.
EU sugar production has increased to more than 20.5 million tonnes making the EU a net exporter of sugar. Given that there now are no restrictions on how much tonnage can be marketed internally in the EU, the available market for ACP/LDC sugar industries in the EU has been reduced and prices in the EU are now below the equivalent price on the world market, a market that is itself heavily distorted by subsidies.
In 2013/14, ACP/LDC exports to the EU over a 12 month period were close to 2.3 million mt. In the period 1st October 2017 to 31st March 2018, the first 6 months since the reform, they were down to just 284,000 mt.