Caribbean protests cuts in sugar subsidies

Caribbean protests cuts in sugar subsidies

Six former British colonies in the Caribbean that are traditional exporters of sugar to Europe, complain that they were not included sufficiently in arrangements made by the European Union to cut sugar subsidies.

This week, a proposal was made to cut the guaranteed sugar prices that the EU pays by 39 percent, with only a two-year adjustment period.

While prices paid by the EU for sugar will still be almost double prices on the free market, the cuts will hit the countries involved hard and they will have less time than they had expected to adjust to the new conditions by finding other outlets for the sugar they produce.

Jamaica, with Guyana the hardest hit of the Caribbean countries involved, has plans to develop alternate uses for sugar such as ethanol production and Gagasse-based generation of electricity, but officials say they need more time than they will have to make adjustments.

In Guyana, where 750,000 people make their living working in the sugar industry, the EU cuts would cost the country $40 million (A?22 million) in export revenues.

This is over six times the $8 million in relief that the nation is slated to receive from the recent G-8 debt relief program.

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