Sugar in the Caribbean: Adjusting to Eroding Preferences
34 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2006
Date Written: December 2005
Sugar exporters of the Caribbean depend on preferential sales of sugar to the European Union and United States at prices that are two to three times the world market price. Without these preferences, sugar export revenues would decline significantly. These preferences are likely to erode in the next several years as the sugar programs of both the European Union and the United States are under pressure to reform as part of already agreed international commitments, internal pressures, and the ongoing Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. The European Commission has already proposed reforms that would reduce internal sugar prices by 39 percent, directly affecting Caribbean sugar exporters. This presents a serious challenge to the sugar producers of the Caribbean who are mostly high-cost producers who will find it difficult to compete in the world market. St. Kitts & Nevis have recently announced plans to close their sugar industry and Trinidad & Tobago began a major restructuring program in 2003. Other sugar producers of the Caribbean will need to become more competitive by reducing costs and adding value to their sugar industries through cogeneration of energy and other activities. Those that cannot reduce costs sufficiently will need to diversify into other crops, such as fruits, vegetables, and meats, for the growing local demand, the tourist industry, or export. International assistance will be important to help countries with these adjustments and the European Union has already proposed an adjustment program.
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