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Belize and St. Kitts-Nevis Settle Trade Dispute over Brown Sugar

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Posted: Saturday, January 23, 2021. 4:49 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Things are sweet again, after a fashion, between Belize and the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, after the countries avoided litigation in a trade dispute over trade in brown sugar.

In the waning days of the Godwin Hulse Ministry of Agriculture, Belize had sued St. Kitts and Nevis, as it is also known, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Caribbean Community generally in the Caribbean Court of Justice’s Original Jurisdiction.

Belize accused both federations of importing brown sugar from countries outside the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) without imposing the 40 percent Common External Tariff (CET), costing sales from American Sugar Refining/Belize Sugar Industries Limited (ASR/BSI) and Santander Sugar, and CARICOM of failing to ensure the CET was imposed, facilitating the trade without the tariff.

St. Kitts approached Belize on settling out of court and such a settlement has now been reached on “conditions satisfactory to Belize,” as elaborated in a press statement, but no details were provided. The discussion was carried out between Belize’s Solicitor General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration, and ASR/BSI.

The Government says farmers here can now be assured of proper trade policy support from CARICOM under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas including the application of CET and opportunities to trade directly with St. Kitts and Nevis.

At the time of the suit as we had reported, St. Kitts argued that its Government had not imported sugar and that the sugar in question must have been imported by private businesses.

Trinidad and Tobago fights on and when that case comes before the CCJ, Belize is asking for the following rulings: “…requires the full application of the 40% CET on Brown Sugar imported from non-CARICOM sources; the establishment of the Monitoring Mechanism for Sugar that was approved by the COTED in 2019; implementation of the Monitoring Mechanism once finalized, and compensation for lost sales suffered by the sugar industry of Belize as an economic injury.”

The Government of Belize extends its thanks and appreciation for the support provided by the BSI, Santander Sugar, and the Sugar Association of the Caribbean in the ongoing effort to secure access to the CARICOM market for sugar and to ensure the survival and sustainable development of the sugar industry of Belize.



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