EU Agriculture Commissioner Says Sugar Beet Industry Not Favored

European Union rules for the sugar market don’t favor beet producers over refiners of cane raw sugar, according to EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos.

Ciolos doesn’t agree that measures taken to reduce shortages in the bloc favored one industry over the other, according to his comments in a letter that was provided by Roger Waite, a spokesman for the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm. The letter was sent to some members of the European Parliament and provided the basis of his comments to some members at a meeting in Strasbourg last week, Waite said.

Some members of the European Parliament from Finland, Portugal, Italy and Bulgaria wrote to Ciolos on May 24 saying EU rules on the sugar market were making refining in the EU “unviable.” They met with Ciolos on July 4, Waite said.

The European Commission allowed local beet producers to sell an additional 650,000 metric tons of sugar in the domestic market to improve supplies in the 2011-12 season that started in October. The duty on the first 400,000 tons was 85 euros ($104) a ton and the levy on the next 250,000 tons was 211 euros a ton, according to Waite in Brussels. Imports of 399,010 tons were also allowed at a reduced duty, which reached 312 euros a ton for raw sugar at the last import tender on June 7, data from the commission showed.

“I do not agree that this approach produces a system skewed in favor of the sugar beet sector,” Ciolos said in the letter. “These measures are intended to meet the needs of different operators, including refiners, who will thereby have the opportunity to participate in tenders, according to their needs and competitiveness.”

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