JIS News

Executive Chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA), Ambassador Derick Heaven, has assured that Jamaica would be able to meet its quota for shipment of sugar to Europe, amidst current speculations that Jamaica might have to pay a fine to the United Kingdom for not meeting its target in the specified time.
Speaking to JIS News, the Ambassador said that “unless there is something unforeseen that happens, there is every indication that Jamaica will be able to successfully meet its obligations”.
Director of Research at the Sugar Industry Research Institute (SIRI), Dr. Earl Roberts also underscored the Ambassador’s view, pointing out that the country could meet its deadline and its quota, especially since the country has bypassed the requisite 21,000 tonnes of sugar required for export to the United Kingdom (UK).
“The first shipment for sugar should have taken place on February 12, and there was a concern that because of the problems at Frome and the late start-up dates of the other factories, that we may not have been able to meet that shipment, but enough sugar has been made to meet that particular shipment. We should be able to fulfill our quota to the European market,” the Director said.
With regard to the recent industrial action taken by cane cutters at the Bernard Lodge Sugar Estate in St. Catherine, Dr. Roberts asserted that it would have no bearing on fulfilling the quota and meeting the shipment deadline, as “there is sufficient sugar already at the port.so that shipment is not in jeopardy”.
Jamaica’s sugar industry has recently faced a number of challenges, with one of the major ones being a proposal by the European Union to reduce the price of sugar exported from Jamaica and other African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States by 37 per cent. However, the price cut was not merely met with silent opposition by Jamaica and other ACP states, but saw agricultural representatives from these countries openly voicing their concerns to the EU by engaging in lobby efforts.
The most recent lobby mission involved a visit by Agriculture Minister, Roger Clarke to Brussels, where he addressed a number of European countries on behalf of the ACP countries with regard to the price cut and its implications on the economic and social life of these states.
In addition, Ambassador Heaven, in a bid to voice Jamaica’s concerns, visited five European countries, namely Finland, Hungary, Spain, France and Belgium with the aim of creating more awareness among their agricultural Ministers about Jamaica’s current state of affairs with regard to its sugar industry as well as to state its position with respect to the EU proposal.
The lobby mission, he said, culminated in a Ministerial meeting in Brussels, where Agriculture Ministers from the ACP states met with all the Ministers of agriculture from the various countries of the EU.
“I think the lobby efforts are very necessary and we are beginning to feel that they are having some effects.” Ambassador Heaven said.
“This is a work in progress and we feel that we have achieved a lot in a short time . my suspicion is, having [the EU] put the proposals on the table, if we had remained silent then they would have been effected without any input from us. and one hopes that based on the force of argument that we have used to present our case, that there will be an ultimate reform proposal put to the European Parliament that reflects both the views of Europe and ourselves that will be acceptable to both sides,” he added.
As a result of the lobbying efforts, the Ambassador noted that the EU was currently pushing for discussion on “an action plan” for individual ACP states. The action plan, the Ambassador explained, “is expected to soften the blow on what the [proposal] may cause. It is an important issue.but it does not eliminate or replace the need for change to the proposal itself”.
He noted that the ACP states were continuing to pursue discussions on the reform itself as well as the accompanying measures that the EU would be prepared to put in place.
With respect to the lobbying efforts, the Ambassador said that apart from Jamaica, other ACP countries that were actively involved in the negotiating process include Guyana, Belize, Mauritius, Sudan, Zambia, Swaziland, Fiji and Malawi. The letter writing campaign being undertaken by the Jamaican Diaspora as well as those of other ACP states has also reaped significant success, with Members of Parliament of the UK openly discussing the issue in Parliament.

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