CARICOM countries looking for unified position on future of sugar industry
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) sugar producing countries are seeking to adopt a unified position as it relates to the future development of the industry as well as their relationship with Europe.
A three-day meeting of the International Sugar organization (ISO) begins here later on Tuesday with issues relating to the soon to be introduced changes in the European Union (EU) Sugar Regime among the main agenda items.
The ISO 45th Council Session in Montego Bay is being held under the theme: ‘Positioning for the new market frontiers’, and is expected to be attended by more than 60 delegates from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Roger Clarke, said delegates would also discuss the number of problems, including the cost of production, now confronting the sugar industry.
He said CARICOM will be particularly interested in the discussion on the sugar regime.
“We are looking at getting a unified CARICOM position, especially among the sugar stakeholders, as to the region’s approach to the future development of the industry, the relationship with the EU and how, as a group, CARICOM fits into the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) organisation. The conference is really about putting together plans as to how we lobby,” he said.
“The change in the EU sugar regime, which comes into effect in two years time, will pose tremendous challenges for sugar producing nations such Jamaica, so we need to be proactive and unified in our approach.
“We will also focus heavily on the cost associated with the production of sugar, because if you look at the trend in prices, sugar producing nations are now being forced to take a critical look at the viability of the industry,” he added.
Clarke said that the meeting here will also discuss health related issues within the industry.
“There is this lobby regarding the harm that can be done to humans through the consumption of sugar. We are now being forced to take an aggressive position to educate members of the public of the health benefits.
“This will be done through support from our scientists who have been charged with the task of putting those fears to rest through research information,” he said.