Trade Ministers, at the 97th Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), via videoconference, finalized the terms of reference for the monitoring mechanism for sugar (MMS) to ensure that there is greater transparency and information flows to inform regional producers and users of the supply and demand of all sugars. Also, Member States agreed that the first meeting of the MMS will be held before the end of 2021 or as soon thereafter as is reasonably practicable.
The Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) applauds the COTED and recognizes that this approval concludes the discussions on the MMS held at the 89th and 90th Special Meeting of the COTED (February 4 and March 26, 2021, respectively). SAC sees this as the final hurdle and that the development and implementation of the MMS, agreed at the Forty-Ninth Regular COTED Meeting in 2019, should provide the data necessary for CARICOM sugar industries to match production with demand within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
When the MMS is established and implemented, it aims to ensure where extra-regional imports of refined sugar are being contemplated, regional producers are given the opportunity to prove that they are able to supply the quantities and specifications required as indicated through an application to the COTED. Only where regional suppliers are unable to supply will Member States be authorized to exempt the payment of the Common External Tariff (CET) on imports of sugar from non-CARICOM sources.
This decision is another key incentive for regional sugar producers to continue investment in value-added products, with the confidence that they will have a home in their own regional market.
Directors of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) are due to meet in November to harmonize next steps to maximize the benefits of the greater intra-regional market access for locally produced sugar.