Sugar Technology
On-line News

March 2003

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NIGERIA EASES IMPORT REQUIREMENTS

Nigeria has reduced [or increased them, depending on your viewpoint] its definition of raw sugar for tarrif purposes. The old definition was an ICUMSA colour between 500 and 3 000 but now sugar as low as 200 colour can enter as raw sugar. For some reason they have also reduced the top end to 1 500 colour.

BRAZIL

Brazil has rebuffed an approach from a group of ACP countries which asked it to drop its WTO complaint against the EU sugar regime. In doing so, the government was quoted as saying that is not "questioning the EUs preferential sugar import policy. Brazil even supports that policy, what Brazil does intend to question is why this raw sugar imported by the EU is refined and re-exported at a subsidized low cost."

It seems that Brazil is facing an ethanol shortage, to the extent that rumours are spreading that the country may have to import. Why they don't just divert sugar into ethanol is a mystery.

AUSTRALIA

The drought is so serious in Australia that molasses supply is down and demand, for starving cattle, is up. The country is being forced to import molasses, very unusual for a country which normally exports.

CSR has finally published its demerger plans. It has opted for demerging Rinker, leaving CSR itself with the sugar business and some other entities. Shareholders will get a share in each company.

USA

The US Congress looks set to approve a large package of emergency measures for farmers hit by a range of problems. The Louisiana cane farmers should receive about $ 60 million compensation for the double hurricane damage last year and the beet farmers to the north should get another $ 60 million for the current drought they are facing. Western Sugar is already laying off workers as a result of that problem and may permanently close its Greeley factory.

Meanwhile the Bush administration is starting to plan for the 'Free Trade Area of the Americas', saying it will put all of its tariffs on the table including sensitive ones like sugar. How this fits with the ongoing dispute with Mexico over NAFTA sugar is very unclear.

MEXICO

On the other side of that dispute, there was a large demonstration in Mexico City this month. 'Tens of thousands' of farmers are reported to have demonstrated against the whole concept of NAFTA, seeking protection from cheap US imports. Quite interesting when one considers that the famers on the US side of the border are worried about exactly the same thing.

UKRAINE

The Ukraine seems to want to 'do a Cuba', reducing its factories while still maintaining production. The wire stories are a bit confusing but it looks as if 40 plants are to be closed.

Meanwhile the country has imported over 200 000 tons so far this accounting year [from September] although all of it is supposed to be re-exported within three months. As this coincides with the beet crop this seems hard to believe.

KENYA

Kenya has reported last year's crop as much improved on the previous year : 495 000 [in round numbers] compared to the previous 337 000. It has now declared that it wants to have its European quota increased [it was awarded a 11 000 ton quota not so long ago] even though, despite the better crop, it still had to import some 110 000 tons to satisfy demand.

Nzoia has confirmed that it is insolvent and has asked that the government bail it out. [It actually asked the government to convert the debt to equity but as the government already owns 98% of the company this seems pointless.]

TRANSGENIC SUGAR BEET

UK researchers into transgenic sugar beet have published a report estimating that the amount of weedkiller needed to be sprayed on the sugar crop could be cut by 80% id transgenic varieties were sown.

BARBADOS

Barbados is forecasting a similar crop to last year at 44 to 46 000 tons, still below its European quota of 54 000 tons. That means that it will again be importing all of its domestic demand in order to export all its own production. It seems that Guyana will benefit from this.

TRINIDAD

The government of Trinidad and Tobago has finally started to rationalise debt ridden Caroni. The company is said to have debts of over US$ 500 million and has run at a loss for the past decade at least. The government plans to close Brechin Castle, concentrating all production at St Madeleine and is offering voluntary redundancy packages to 9 000 workers.

PAKISTAN

After a five year break, Pakistan will again be an exporter of sugar this year. It looks as if the government is aiming to export 300 000 tons although it will remain flexible, depending on the final production figures. The domestic consumption is about 3.6 million tons but carry over is only 400 000 tons.



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