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Story Highlights

  • Developments related to export markets for sugar in the post-2017 period are expected to be discussed during the 45th Annual ISO Council conference.
  • While Jamaica will still have duty-free and quota-free access for sugar in the export market after 2017, “there will be no price guarantee”.
  • Currently, the European Union (EU) is offering other sugar producing countries the same duty-free and quota-free access under various bilateral and other regional trade agreements.

Developments related to export markets for sugar in the post-2017 period are expected to be discussed during the 45th Annual International Sugar Organization (ISO) Council conference, scheduled for the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa, in Montego Bay, St. James, from May 27 to 29.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, who spoke at the conference’s media launch, on Wednesday, April 16, at the Ministry’s offices in St. Andrew, explained that while Jamaica will still have duty-free and quota-free access for sugar in the export market after 2017, “there will be no price guarantee”.

He pointed out that, currently, the European Union (EU) is offering other sugar producing countries the same duty-free and quota-free access under various bilateral and other regional trade agreements.

“These market changes in the European Union will mean greater competition for Jamaica from other lower-cost producers. Jamaica must, therefore, urgently turn its attention to exploiting the possibilities in the regional market for both raw and refined sugar, as well as increasing our productivity. This conference must address these imperatives,” Mr. Clarke added.

The three-day conference, which is being held in Jamaica and the Caribbean for the first time, is expected to be attended by over 100 delegates from 40 countries, including the host country.

These representatives include Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, and the ISO Council’s Immediate Past Chairman, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, as well as government ministers from Guatemala, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

Participants are slated to discuss a range of issues pertaining to the global sugar industry under the theme: ‘Positioning for the New Market Frontiers’. These include: energy co-generation; financing; and research, in addition to sugar export markets.

Efforts are also being made by the organizers of the conference, which commences with an official opening ceremony on May 27, to schedule tours of at least two sugar factories for the participants in the three-day itinerary.

The conference coincides with the elevation of Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) Executive Chairman, Ambassador Derick Heaven, to the position of ISO Council Chairman. He was elected to the post in November 2013, and assumed office in January.

Welcoming Jamaica’s selection to host this year’s conference, Mr. Clarke underscored the importance of the 87-member ISO.

“The member states account for 86 per cent of world sugar production; 69 per cent of world sugar consumption; 95 per cent of world sugar exports; and 41 per cent of world sugar imports,” he informed.

The Minister also highlighted derivable benefits for ISO member countries. These, he outlined, include:  sponsorship for projects in developing countries, through the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), to which the ISO is the designated International Commodity Body; market analyses; and regular publications on emerging industry developments, including marketing, statistical and technical data.

Other activities, he pointed out, include: analytical research, focusing on development of ethanol from sugar cane, as well as organic sugar, and sugar nutrient fortification.

“These activities, I believe, show that the International Sugar Organization performs a unique and important role in the world sugar economy, and is very important to Jamaica,” Mr. Clarke said.

He congratulated Ambassador Heaven on his appointment, pointing out that “his vast knowledge of the sector will certainly equip him to discharge his responsibilities with excellence.”

Meanwhile, Ambassador Heaven advised that a meeting of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) will coincide with the ISO conference. Additionally, that efforts are being made to organize consultation involving CARICOM Ministers of Agriculture, and other regional industry stakeholders.

The International Sugar Organization is an intergovernmental body, based in London, England, which was established by the International Sugar Agreement (USA) of 1968 as the body responsible for administering the agreement.

The ISO aims to: ensure enhanced international cooperation in connection with world sugar matters and related issues; provide a forum for intergovernmental consultations on sugar, and ways to improve the world sugar economy; facilitate trade by collecting and providing information on the world sugar market, and other sweeteners; and encourage increased demand for sugar, particularly from non-traditional users.