Britain's proposed entry to the European Common Market has created many problems. One is that?
Britain's proposed entry to the European Common Market has created many problems. One is that of Britain's traditional sugar-buying link with Commonwealth countries, many of which rely on this export alone as the basis of their national economies. The West Indies is such as example, and this production, one of a series of five highlighting the major aspects of the Common Market negotiations, illustrates sugar-growing and refining--and points to the damage Commonwealth sugar-growers could suffer in an already economically hard-hit industry.
The first feature of this series was 5514/71 of 17 May 1971, dealing with the problems that New Zealand could face if Britain becomes part of the Common Market. The remaining three will deal with the EEC Common Agricultural Policy, the formation of the Common Market, and the ensuing abortive attempts to enlarge it. The series will be completed by the end of May.
SYNOPSIS: Britain's proposed entry to the European Common Market has created a problem for its sugar suppliers, mainly Commonwealth countries who export to Britain under preferential trade agreements.
The suppliers--including most of the West Indian countries and Australia--believe that their sugar industries will be severely affected, if not destroyed, by Britain becoming part of the Common Market. This belief is wide-spread among Commonwealth growers, despite assurances from Britain that it will safeguard their interests. Last week Britain's chief negotiator for Common Market entry, Mr. Geoffrey Rippon, said a general, nonspecific, agreement had been reached with the Market to safeguard growers' interests after expiry of the current Commonwealth Sugar Agreement in 1974. But this re-assurance has no satisfied the sugar producing countries, many of whom have sugar producing countries, many of whom have sugar as the basis of their national economies--notably Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana and many other West Indian countries. Senior ministers, sugar growers and representatives of industry have all sought "urgent negotiations" with Mr. Rippon, and have declared that they want "bankable guarantees"--not "paper words of assurance." The Australian sugar industry, another exporter to Britain, has warned of disaster--and meanwhile begun selling sugar in earnest to Japan. The growing row is based on a few main factors--the increasing difficulty in making any sort of profit from sugar; that sugar is the mainstay of many of the Commonwealth countries concerned; and the competition from non-Commonwealth and Communist-ruled markets if preferential barriers are abolished.
In Britain, where giant sugar refineries process the imported raw stock, the biggest of the country's manufacturers has warned of disaster even in Britain's refining industry--let alone damage done to growers. For the assumption is that Common Market and other suppliers would wish to increase their own profits by the supply of refined sugar to Britain. One such threat comes from Cuba, and another from the French sugar-beet industry--which has a large surplus every year. The common verdict among growers and refiners is that Britain should have negotiated for long-term guarantees based on definite tonnages, and not vague assurances. For the moment, however, as far as Britain, France and the Common Market are concerned, the assurances are sufficient....and the book is closed.