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New market access positive for sugar beet industry

Posted on December 4, 2013 by Vauxhall Advance

Editor:   

I am writing in response to your article in today’s Lethbridge Herald (Nov. 28 edition of The Vauxhall Advance) entitled “Sugar beet growers sour on trade deal”. Certain facts referenced in the article are incorrect and require clarification.

It is correct that the CETA in principle provides unfettered access for Canadian beet sugar into the EU market. It also provides for limited quota access for sugar-containing products produced in Canada; however, unlike the access for Canadian beet sugar, the access for these products is subject to volume limitations. The CETA is the first time a Canadian trade agreement has secured significant new market access for Canada’s sugar industry.

The cost, however, is misstated. The cost of that access is a 10 year phase out of the $30.86 per tonne Canadian tariff on imported refined EU sugar. 

There is no provision in the CETA for Canada to export refined cane sugar to the EU market nor to increase raw cane sugar imports into Canada. Your article refers to “156 million tonnes of foreign sourced sugar”.

The Canadian market is only 1.1 million tonnes and it would not be possible to import and refine that much raw sugar in Canada from any source. Moreover, the principal supplier of raw sugar is Brazil.

Canada has been importing Brazilian raw sugar at a zero tariff for many years. Imports of raw sugar for value-added refining in Canada from developing economies and others have been duty free for decades. The CETA will not affect that access.

The make-up of the Canadian sugar market, which is predominantly refined cane sugar with approximately 10 percent production comprising beet sugar, reflects the free market conditions that are characteristic of the Canadian market. Beet sugar production is a large portion of the EU and US sugar markets only because of the highly protective sugar programs in those countries.

The CETA presents new market opportunities for Canadian sugar including beet sugar produced in Taber. The industry is closely examining how to benefit from this new access.

Sandra Marsden

President, Canadian Sugar Institute

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