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November 24, 2022 - International Trade News

Fixing the WTO – the key to a Sustainable Sugar Future

Meeting in London this week, Global Sugar Alliance members called on India to fully comply with its international commitments and urged all countries to redouble efforts to fix the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The sugar industry needs a trade system that works. We have three priorities:

  1. India complying with its WTO commitments.
  2. Restoring a fully and well-functioning WTO dispute settlement system and appellate body. 
  3. Strengthening the WTO’s rules-based global trading system with countries committing to ambitious reductions in trade- and production-distorting domestic supports and increasing trade liberalism – not a retreating into protectionism. 

An open international trading system will have the added benefit of supporting and simplifying efforts to sustainably secure global food security in concert with science-based action against climate change. 

Notes for editors – please find quotes from GSA and relevant GSA member countries:

GSA Chair quote ‘The WTO Panel ruling that the fundamentally flawed Indian sugar regime breaches India’s international commitments is an emphatic win for the world sugar industry’, said Greg Beashel, Global Sugar Alliance Chairman and Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL) Managing Director.

Following India’s appeal, without a functioning Appellate Body, swift finalisation of the case has been delayed. 

Mr Beashel said, ‘to promote predictability and security in the multilateral trading system, restoration of the WTO Appellate Body is a matter of priority and urgency.’

Guatemala – Leopoldo Bolaños, International Trader, Association of Sugar Producers of Guatemala (ASAZGUA) welcomed India’s decision not to use export subsidies in 2022/23 and to accelerate the roll out of its ethanol fuel-blending roadmap, a substantial investment on climate action. 

Mr Bolaños said, ‘Consistent with WTO Ministers 2015 decision to ban agricultural export subsidies, we call on India to announce that sugar export subsidies will be permanently removed. An important next step is for India to reduce the unrealistically high sugarcane price supports in accordance with the WTO panel decision’. 

‘The fact that world sugar market prices are presently so strong reflects both global supply issues and India’s decision not to directly subsidise sugar exports, with subsidised sugarcane prices the threat of surplus Indian production remains.’

Brazil – Executive Director of The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), Eduardo Leão de Sousa said, ‘India’s commitment to ongoing investment in the development of its ethanol industry is good news for sugarcane producers and the world environment’.  The sugarcane industry can help meet the challenge of feeding the growing world population, and the production of ethanol can reduce pressures on climate change.  ‘This can be done in a sustainable way, without excessive sugarcane price supports.’

Brazil is working closely to help India take the next steps. Mr de Sousa said, ‘Matching the significant steps taken in the ethanol production with an increased blending profile and the accelerated introduction of flex-fuel vehicles will ensure the success of the program.’

Canada – Sandra Marsden, President, Canadian Sugar Institute said, ‘the WTO’s ruling that India’s sugar supports were in breach of its commitments underscored the importance of an enforceable rules-based trading system. Unsubsidised international trade in agriculture has a critical role to play in achieving both sustainable global food security and reducing pressures on climate change.’

Thailand – Vibul Panitvong, Chairman of the Executive Board, Thai Sugar Millers Corporation, said all Global Sugar Alliance members were urging their governments to work together as a matter of urgency to fix the WTO impasse.  

Mr Pantivong said, ‘Improving the environment and reducing climate pressures are the benefits that can flow from an unsubsidised open trading system that enables each country to take full advantage of their comparative advantages.’

Greg Beashel, Chairman: +61 408 713 316 greg.beashel@qsl.com.au

Warren Males, Secretary: +61 417 002 325 warren_males@outlook.com 

Mr Eduardo Leão de Sousa, Executive Director, UNICA: +55 11 981 013 649 eduardo@unica.com.br

Ms Sandra Marsden, President Canadian Sugar Institute: +1 (647) 680 2649 smarsden@sugar.ca

Mr Rangsit Hiangrat, Director-General, Thai Sugar Millers Corporation Limited: +66 81 805 9644 rangsith@thaisugarmillers.com

Mr Leopoldo Bolaños, International Trader, Guatemalan Sugar Association, +502 (2215) 8019 Lbolanos@azucar.com.gt

ABOUT US: The Global Alliance for Sugar Trade Reform and Liberalization brings together 85% of the world cane sugar exporters. The Global Sugar Alliance members (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, South Africa and Thailand) are active advocates to improve the world sugar trading environment. Members work closely together to ensure the fair and equal treatment of sugar and ethanol in the WTO negotiations on agriculture so that markets are allowed to work. We are working with our governments to remove restrictions that prevent consumers and sugar users, wherever they are located, from accessing the most competitively produced sugar and ethanol in the world.