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The EU featured strongly again in July but nothing more on the CAP reforms. The sugar price is now just above 7 USą per lb - but will it stay there.
WTO AND THE EU
The EU has blocked the first complaint by Australia, Brazil and Thailand at a Disputes Settlement Body [DSB] hearing saying that its sugar regime does obey WTO rules and, if found illegal, would result in harm to some of the world's poorest countries. However, the complainants stressed that they had no issue with the ACP arrangements, it was the internal arrangements which result in large quantities of white sugar 'dumped' onto the world market.
The complainants are expected to re-submit their complaint in August, in which case it will automatically trigger cause the establishment of a panel of trade judges to investigate the complaint.
SERBIA SUSPENSION EXTENDED
The EU has now extended the three month suspension of Serbian sugar imports [which we reported last month] for a further six months, until February 2004. Interestingly, an EU official was quoted as saying that Croatia would not be subject to the extension because its customs administration was seen as 'better prepared to fight fraud'.
IRISH SUGAR NOT FOR SALE
A rumour that Irish Sugar was to be bought by the local beet farmers which sprang up during the month was firmly squashed by the company. There had been speculation earlier this year that the Greencore group wanted to be out of sugar but that came to nothing. The latest rumour seems to have started when some farmers approached Rabobank, the Dutch bank which specialises in agriculture and has a strong sugar arm, for assistance.
There has been a lot of activity in Kenya this month. Perhaps most importantly, the government applied a sugar tariff to imports, including those from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Such protection will certainly help the local industry but may be politically unacceptable as higher prices work their way through the system.
At Mumias a local team has taken over from Booker Tate after 30 years of expatriate management. Unfortunately the company's last accounts under that management showed a loss but the new management promised to turn things around. The new MD / CEO is Mr Paul Mutanda who was the Agricultural Manager at Mumias under BT.
At Nzoya, it looks as if Schaffer will not loose their management contract as the US Exim Bank has expressed interest in funding further work there. It is unlikely that the bank will supply the funds without a US manager like SAIL being in control of operations.
SHELL MUSCLES IN ON AUS ETHANOL DEBATE
For some time now the Australian industry has been looking at power ethanol, seeing it as a way of creating extra profit in these difficult times. Shell has now entered the debate, warning the sugar companies that it is not prepared to sell an ethanol/gasoline blend at a discount to its own products. As any such discount would be at the instigation of the government that seems a somewhat rash thing to say.
BACITA IN DEEPER TROUBLE
It looks as if the end is near for Bacita with the MD / CEO and his team suspended for "gross financial recklessness". In essence it seems that the company has carried on seeking [and getting!] further credit when its huge debt led the government to recommend liquidation. The company has made little sugar and the equipment for a major expansion has lain in the yard unused.
STRIKE AT CROCKETT
Now it is C+H's turn to suffer a strike at a US refinery. The labour agreement at Crockett ran out in May and the workers went on strike at the beginning of July, dissatisfied with the proposed new agreement. The strike seemed to last about 2 weeks and is now hopefully over with a new three year agreement in place.
Cuba has admitted that the crop which recently finished was the worst since the 1930's but has not published figures for the crop. Quite interestingly, the spokesman wnet on to affirm that next crop will be better but gave no reasons why this should be the case.
ISSCT WEB DOMAINS 'RESCUED'
For many years the web address "www.issct.org" and its ".com" and ".net" complements have been held to ransom by an individual. We are pleased to say that we have now been able to recover those addresses and are busy handing them over to ISSCT to control.