Changes in EU sugar regime to be discussed at ISO’s MoBay meeting
ISSUES relating to the upcoming change in the European Union (EU) sugar regime are high on the agenda of the three-day 45th Council Session of the International Sugar Organisation (ISO), starting today at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay, St James.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Roger Clarke told JIS News that the number of challenges facing the sugar industry, including cost of production, will be discussed at the meeting.
Clarke, who was attending the Fifth Meeting of Caricom Sugar Stakeholders at the Hilton Rose Hall on Sunday, said Caribbean Community (Caricom) delegates 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 as 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 [as], 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," the minister added.
Another major point up for discussion, Clarke said, is the matter of the health risks that are deemed to be associated with the use of sugar.
"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," the minister told JIS.
The conference, which is being staged under the theme 'Positioning for the new market frontiers', will be attended by more that 60 delegates from Caricom.