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Thursday, 27 January 2011

Jamaica Minister eyes August completion for sugar divestment

Privatisation of Jamaica's sugar industry is expected to be completed by August, ahead of the second disbursement of the 120 million euro which the European Union (EU) has made available to assist the Government in transforming the industry. "By August we hope to see a fully privatised sugar cane industry in Jamaica and that is an important part of the transformation," Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said yesterday. Dr Tufton later told the Observer that the Chinese sugar investors will take full control of both the fields and the factories by then. The focus for the next three years, he said, will be on doubling sugar cane production and expanding factories. A refinery is also to be constructed by this year. Jamaica has moved to make the sugar industry more competitive now that there are no more guaranteed European markets for the product. Under previous agreements African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries who are signatories to the Sugar Protocol were guaranteed markets and predictable prices. However, with the conclusion of that arrangement, the EU has assisted these countries with funding through the AMSP programme, which is slated to last until 2013. According to Dr Tufton, sugar producing countries have to be careful not to permit sense of entitlement to European markets to allow them to become complacent in making the sugar a competitive one. As such he urged them to move towards establishing a more sustainable industry.

Source: Jamaica Observer