EU Pressed On Sugar Subsidies

Published online: Mar 04, 2004 Andrew Beatty
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The European Union is being pressed to alleviate the effects of its EU$1.4 billion sugar subsidies. Ministers from the Sudan, Mozambique, Bangladesh and Nepal--representing more than 30 least-developed nations--visited Brussels March 3. They were hopeful the Union's regime could be changed to take account of their interets. The EU spends more than any other area in the world each year on supports for its sugarbeet growers. This not only guarantees internal sugar prices but tariffs which block out exporters. The ministers called on the EU to increase 20-fold the amount of sugar which can be imported to the EU free of tariffs within 10 years. The current regime is due to stay in place until June 2006, although some reform will take place later this year. The group of sugar producers tabled a proposal calling on the EU to make good on its "Everything But Arms" initiative to allow duty-free access for the World's poorest countries. In the document, the group of least-developed countries wants to see a 10-year delay before the EU starts a progressive reduction of tariffs, and introduce interim duty-free access for the LDC group before that. The group hopes that this will allow them not to be subsumed by producers from more developed countries or industrial producers. "Only by allowing us to sell sugar at a certain guaranteed price can EBA become meaningful to our economies," said Abd al-Hameed Musa Kasha the Sudanese trade minister.