JIS News

The Government and the European Union (EU) have signed a financial agreement valued at Euro 5.2 million (J$454 million), to assist in the transformation of the country’s sugar industry.
This transformation will be carried out under the Jamaica Country Strategy (JCS) for the Adaptation of the Sugar Industry, and will seek to address both the social and economic implications resulting from changes to the Sugar Protocol by the EU.
The amount represents the first tranche of a sum to be allocated to the government over a period of eight years, under the EU Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol Countries 2006 Financing Agreement.
Speaking at the signing on March 2, at the National Heroes Circle offices of the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi-Alemanni explained that the programme would be mainly delivered through direct budgetary support.
“This will put the Jamaican Government fully in the driver’s seat when striving to implement its strategies for the sector,” he said.
“The EU trusts the future of the sugar cane industry in Jamaica and will support the efforts of the Jamaican Government to make it sustainable, competitive and in line with international trends, interests and needs,” the Ambassador added.Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, explained that the money would go towards assisting the country to recover from the imminent dislocation, which would result from the EU sugar reform regime. “The EU sugar reform will result in loss of income amounting to $2.1 billion per annum by 2009, and also a reduction in the returns from sugar exports, leading to a decrease in the price paid to cane farmers,” he noted.
“Without this assistance, African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) sugar producing countries will be unable to meet their Millennium Development Goals for rural development, reduction in poverty and macro-economic performance,” the Minister added. The JCS, once fully implemented, is expected to result in economic diversification in sugar dependent areas, the development of alternative uses of sugar cane lands taken out of production in an environmentally sustainable way, and improvement of key rural infrastructure.
In November 2005, the EU in response to a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling, decided to reform the sugar sector, reducing the price paid for sugar by 5 per cent in 2006, with a total decrease of 36 per cent by 2009.
The EU, in 2006, agreed to provide assistance to 18 ACP countries affected by the sugar reform regime for the period 2006 to 2013. For the first year, Euro 40 million was approved, while in December 2006 an additional Euro 1.224 billion was also approved for the period 2007 to 2013