The International Trade Committee takes evidence from sugar-industry representatives, and an academic expert, in the latest session of its Trade and the Commonwealth: developing countries inquiry.
Wednesday 2 May, Committee Room 15, Palace of Westminster
- Paul Kenward, Managing Director, British Sugar and Board Member, AB Sugar
- Gerald Mason, Senior Vice President Corporate Affairs, Tate & Lyle Sugars
- Dr Ben Richardson, Associate Professor in International Political Economy, University of Warwick
Purpose of the session
The session will examine trade in sugar as an important case study of the issues posed by trade with developing Commonwealth countries and hears the views from both beet-sugar producers and cane-sugar refiners, as well as a leading academic authority on the sugar trade and development issues.
EU’s domestic beet-sugar industry
Historically, the EU’s domestic beet-sugar industry (which accounts for around half of global beet-sugar production – and a fifth of total global sugar production) has been heavily subsidised and protected, with imported raw cane-sugar being subject to considerable tariffs.
Economic Partnership Agreements
At the same time, former European colonies that produce raw cane-sugar (including developing Commonwealth countries) have been given preferential trade terms. These now take the form of Economic Partnership Agreements for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, and the Everything But Arms initiative for Least Developed Countries.
Restructuring of the EU beet-producing sector
In 2017, the previous EU system of sugar quotas and minimum prices was ended, following a restructuring of the EU beet-producing sector during 2006–10. These reforms have led to a substantial increase in the volume of beet-sugar produced across the EU, including in the UK. This, in turn, has had a significant negative impact on raw cane-sugar producers exporting to the EU, the increased volume of cheap, domestically-produced beet sugar having substantially reduced demand for cane sugar.
Brexit makes it necessary for the UK to decide whether to continue with the EU’s policies in respect of trade in sugar or to strike out in a new direction. The interests of developing countries, the beet-sugar producing and cane-sugar refining industries, and consumers will all need to be considered when determining a future approach.