Select Committee on International Development Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the UK Industrial Sugar Users Group (UKISUG)

AFTER THE WTO RULING AGAINST THE EU SUGAR REGIME WHAT CAN BE DONE TO HELP THOSE ACP STATES HEAVILY DEPENDENT ON PREFERENTIAL ACCESS TO THE EU MARKET?

  UKISUG represents the industrial users of sugar in the UK, who employ some 80,000 people with annual retail sales worth more than £15 billion last year. They account for around 1.2 million tonnes of sugar each year, representing about 70% of UK output and worth more than £540 million. They are therefore a significant stakeholder in the EU sugar regime.

  It is important to recognise that reform of the EU sugar regime is overall a benefit to ACP and LDC countries and not a burden. To the extent that the existing regime benefits them at present, it is by tying them into a system based on a single crop grown for a single customer. This is not stable or resilient for the long term. It institutionalises dependence rather than equality.

  It is also the case that the EU has been able to avoid confronting the serious issues involved in establishing sustainable pathways out of poverty. There are good reasons to suppose that EU policy has been inadequate in this area: the sugar regime has been a distraction, giving the impression of doing something when in fact not doing enough.

  Policies for development should be designed specifically for the purpose. It is proven not to be adequate merely to use the off-shoot of a regulatory regime designed with a different objective in mind. In that light, we welcome the research commissioned by DFID into future options for development policies.

  The timetable for development and reform within the ACP countries is likely to be longer than the timetable for reform within the EU. This is not surprising in view of the greater challenges faced by the ACP countries. For this reason, we should not suppose that both reform processes will be completed at the same time. The need for reform within the EU is urgent and should not be held up pending reforms elsewhere in the world.

  Lastly, UKISUG would also caution against making too many assumptions at this time about the extent of reform of the EU sugar regime. The UK government's policy is clear and welcome, but opinion elsewhere in the EU differs. The future of the EU sugar regime remains to be decided.

  The UK government will have to be tough and determined in the forthcoming negotiations if it is to achieve its objectives. It should use the coming debate to ensure that the rest of the EU is fully aware of the need to reform the regime to boost industrial competitiveness at home and encourage economic development abroad.

November 2004





 
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