Jamaica to host sugar council meeting next month
DEVELOPMENTS related to export markets for sugar in the post-2017 period are expected to be discussed during the 45th Annual International Sugar Organisation (ISO) Council conference, scheduled for the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spain Montego Bay, St James from May 27 to 29.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Roger Clarke, who spoke at the conference's media launch last week, said that while Jamaica will still have duty-free and quota-free access for sugar in the export market after 2017, there will be no price guarantee.
Currently, the European Union is offering other sugar producing countries the same duty-free and quota-free access under various bilateral and other regional trade agreements, he pointed out.
"These market changes in the European Union will mean greater competition for Jamaica from other lower-cost producers. Jamaica must, therefore, urgently turn its attention to exploiting the possibilities in the regional market for both raw and refined sugar, as well as increasing our productivity. This conference must address these imperatives," Clarke said.
The three-day conference, which is being held in the Caribbean for the first time, is expected to be attended by more than 100 delegates from 40 countries. These representatives include Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji and the ISO Council's Immediate Past Chairman Commodore Frank Bainimarama, as well as government ministers from Guatemala, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
Participants are slated to discuss a range of issues pertaining to the global sugar industry under the theme 'Positioning for the New Market Frontiers'. These include energy co-generation; financing; and research, in addition to sugar export markets.
Efforts are also being made by the organisers of the conference to schedule tours of at least two sugar factories for the participants.
The conference coincides with the elevation of Sugar Industry Authority executive chairman Ambassador Derick Heaven to the position of ISO Council chairman. He was elected to the post in November 2013, and assumed office in January.
Welcoming Jamaica's selection to host this year's conference, Clarke underscored the importance of the 87-member ISO. "The member states account for 86 per cent of world sugar production; 69 per cent of world sugar consumption; 95 per cent of world sugar exports; and 41 per cent of world sugar imports," he said.
The ISO is an intergovernmental body, based in London, England, which was established by the International Sugar Agreement (USA) of 1968 as the body responsible for administering the agreement.
The ISO aims to ensure enhanced international cooperation in connection with world sugar matters and related issues; provide a forum for intergovernmental consultations on sugar, and ways to improve the world sugar economy; facilitate trade by collecting and providing information on the world sugar market and other sweeteners; and encourage increased demand for sugar, particularly from non-traditional users.