Thursday, July 12, 2012

Not so sweet

In article in this week’s Agra Europe, European Commission spokesperson Roger Waite has denied that sugar refiners in the EU market are being treated unfairly and claims that persistently high world market prices are to blame for supply difficulties.

The spokesperson for agriculture and rural development argues that the different mechanisms created by the Commission to release additional product to supply the internal market – the release of out-of-quota beet sugar and the reduced-duty tenders to source imported cane sugar – are not discriminatory, but are “two different systems suited to two different realities”.

Waite was responding to an Agra Europe article written in May by Gerald Mason of sugar refiners Tate & Lyle which was highly critical of the Commission’s management of the sugar market.

Waite concedes that the loss of exclusive rights to imported cane for refining after the 2006 reforms has created some difficulties for the former ‘traditional’ refiners. But he notes that these companies received EU restructuring aid totalling €150 million in the aftermath of the reforms.

In addition, the article reiterates the EU executive’s determination to liberalise the internal EU sugar market by abolishing production quotas from 2015. This will be welcome news for many sugar-using companies within the EU but conflicts with many MEPs from sugar-producing member states who are pushing for an extension to 2020.

The sugar lobby has always been a powerful one, but lost ground after the WTO judgement on the EU's sugar regime.

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