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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

EU Investment Bank ups Mauritius sugar reform funds

The European Investment Bank (EIB) on Tuesday announced a 15 million euro loan to Mauritius sugar producer Omnicane, as the country faces the end of preferential European Union prices. Sugar firms on the Indian Ocean island have increasingly looked to diversify their products and cut costs after the EU announced a graduated 36 percent cut in its guaranteed price for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) sugar. Omnicane expects its new $200 million "flexi factory" to produce 200,000 tonnes of sugar per year -- roughly two fifths of Mauritius's total sugar exports -- and generate electricity and produce ethanol. Sugar was once the bedrock of the Mauritian economy. Today the almost $10 billion economy has moved into tourism, offshore banking and business outsourcing, although about half the island is still covered in cane. The Mauritius Chamber of Agriculture says sugar sales still make up some 3 percent of gross domestic product. The industry remains one of the island's leading employers. The loan follows a separate EIB loan of 13 million euros last year to Mauritius' FUEL Sugar Milling Company. Both companies are now selling refined sugar in place of raw sugar to German sugar giant Sudzucker, ending a long-standing relationship with Britain's Tate & Lyle.

Source: Reuters

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