Monday, July 12, 2004

Gya: EU baffled Caricom with BS

The Caribbean Community has made the obligatory protest about the planned 37 per cent reduction over the next three years in the price of sugar by Community producers in the European Union market.

But we hardly believe that the Caricom leaders expect to have much success in the call on the EU to withdraw the proposal because of the likely impact it will have on the region's agricultural sector.

Indeed, Jamaica's sugar industry, despite the improvements in recent years, still posts substantial losses annually, the preferential markets in Europe and the United States, notwithstanding.

The region is, of course, correct in their argument that the sugar agreement between the Caribbean and Britain, which was embraced by the EU, granted this region a guaranteed market in Europe in perpetuity.

But the fact is that the de jure preferences have been under severe attack in recent years - and not just only in the case of sugar. The banana industry, even more so, has been losing ground in Europe.

These stresses have become two points. There are the internal dynamics of the European Union and its need to reform its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the external strains from countries which argue that the preferences enjoyed by countries like Jamaica are inherently unfair and in breach of the tenets of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

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