JIS News

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has disclosed that the Jamaica Country Strategy for the Adaptation of the Sugar Industry 2006-2015 has been completed and submitted to the European Union (EU). He made the announcement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (Feb. 14).
The country strategy became necessary in light of the unilateral changes to the Sugar Protocol by the EU and outlines the way forward for the sugar industry. Jamaica is among two African Caribbean and Pacific countries to have submitted a country strategy.
Among the areas identified for special attention are the restructuring and upgrade of the industry, diversification, research and innovation, human resource development and the implementation of development programmes for sugar producing areas.
In relation to comments that the country should consider abandoning sugar and banana production in light of competition and lower EU subsidies, Mr. Patterson said the Government would continue to pursue a policy of sector diversification without the abandonment of either industry. He said Heads of Government agreed at the recently concluded Inter-sessional meeting in Trinidad, to mount a mission to select European capitals and institutions to outline the region’s concerns with respect to the proposed measures, ahead of the decision to be taken by the EU in April.
He said the mission which would include the President of Guyana Bharrat Jagdeo and Prime Minister Denzil Douglas of St. Kitts and Nevis accompanied by relevant Ministers, would insist that compensation to ACP countries should be equivalent to that provided to beet sugar producers in Europe, as well as convey to the EU that the proposed changes to the sugar protocol would have permanent repercussions for the sugar industry and the region as a whole.
The Prime Minister said the Enterprise Team established to pursue the various enquiries in respect of private sector involvement in the operations of Government-owned estates was currently evaluating the enquiries received and that a listing of assets at each sugar estate was being compiled to facilitate the decision-making process. He said discussions were proceeding apace with the principals of the Worthy Park and Appleton Sugar Estates with regards to making Government-owned lands available for the production of additional sugar cane at those factories.
As part of the changes to the Sugar Protocol, the European Union has determined that the price paid to European and ACP sugar producers will be adjusted from 523.7 Euros per tonne in 2005/06 to 496 Euros in 2007/08 and down to 335 Euros in 2009/10.