Memorandum submitted by Turner's Transport
I am writing to you with regard to the proposed
reforms to the European Union sugar regime as set out in the Commission's
papers entitled "Reforming the European Union's Sugar Policy".
I am responding, as its General Manager, on
behalf of Turner's Transport Ltd, one of the largest independently
owned transport companies in the UK.
As a business, our company, which employs in
excess of 1,400 people in the UK, is heavily involved in the transport
of sugar on behalf of the majority of stakeholders in the UK sugar
Having considered the options set out in the
Commission's Working Paper I believe that the appropriate conclusion
for the future is for the adoption of balanced reform (Option
1 in the EU Paper); that being the only option that will provide
a stable market that I believe is essential for the future.
The reasons for my conclusion are as follows:
1. Any substantive price reductions or market
globalisation will not, in practice, provide the perceived benefits
of reduced consumer prices and "open" markets. Past
experience in alternative commodities has shown that such practices
in fact serve to allow a small number of international traders
and global low cost producers to wholly dominate specific markets
with no consumer benefits.
2. Such price reductions and/or globalisation
will for the reasons stated also serve to exclude from the EU
market suppliers from the world's poorest countries who will be
unable to compete with the world's least-cost producers. These
least-developed countries (LDCs), in view of their fragile economies,
require for the present and foreseeable future stable markets
that can allow their economies to develop in a structured manner.
3. I believe, personally, that it is our
moral responsibility as members of the world's most developed
and richest nations to support, when appropriate, the population
of the LDCs through such trading links as can be provided. I believe
that support for this position is demonstrated by the Commission's
EBA initiative, the benefits of which will be wholly negated in
the event of the introduction of the alternative options. This
conclusion is further underlined by the response to the Commission
from the LDC Brussels Sugar Group, dated 19 November 2003,that
calls for an orderly market structure for sugar in line with the
current EU regime.
4. I believe that the UK sugar industry
is extremely efficient and sets the very highest standards in
terms of food safety, traceability and overall quality.
5. The UK industry also provides the very
highest environmental standards and strives continually to improve.
I believe that is unlikely in the extreme that such standards
would either be sought for or achieved by the world's least-cost
producing countries such as Brazil or Thailand.
6. As a transport company we are involved
in the transport and distribution of both sugar beet to the various
process locations and the delivery of bulk and bagged sugar for
a number of UK sugar companies to the various retail and industrial
users within the UK. We are also involved in the delivery to the
UK ports of sugar exports. As such I believe we are in a unique
position to comment on the overall logistics efficiency of the
UK sugar market. It is our view that the UK sugar industry is
one of the most efficient industries that we are involved with
which sets the very highest standards throughout and strives continually
for greater efficiency. The industry provides the highest standards
of Health and Safety for all involved in the industry and it is
important that such standards are not compromised by structural
changes to the EU sugar industry.
7. On behalf of my company, Turner's Transport,
I am very concerned at the politically damaging effect on our
business, and on the haulage industry throughout the country,
of reform in the sugar sector, unless it is carefully balanced
and managed in the way I am suggesting.
8. It is my understanding the UK sugar market
is in balance in regard to supply and demand without producing
expensive quota surpluses. In addition, within the EU, the UK
market is unique in already sourcing around half of the current
UK production from cane sugar imported from developing countries.
These long-standing and valuable trading relationships would be
immediately threatened in the event of the introduction of an
uncontrolled and unstable EU market with significant negative
social and economic damage to the ACP countries involved.
to the EU proposals on Sugar Regime Review my conclusion is that
it is imperative that a stable and structured market is maintained
within the EU for sugar and for those reasons I believe that the
maintenance of a stable market (Option 1 in the EU Papers) should
I believe that the adoption of the alternative
options would provide significant social and economic disadvantages
to both the EU members and the LDC/ACPs.
I understand that this view is supported by
the overwhelming majority of responses to the Defra Consultation
on this subject.
However, it is acknowledged that it is entirely
appropriate for a review of the current EU sugar regime. I believe
that such changes decided upon should be limited to the reduction
of quotas and it should be noted that since the UK domestic sugar
industry does not produce any such surpluses such quota reductions
should not be directed at the UK.
24 March 2004