Global Solutions Required for Global Problems

Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:19pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

SAO PAULO, Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The huge challenges facing the world
economy demonstrate -- if such demonstration was needed -- that we live in a
global economic system and there is no escape behind protectionist trade
barriers.  World leaders, acting together, have taken decisive steps to reduce
the risk of catastrophic failure of the financial system. In recognition of
the need for global action, the G-20, a far more globally representative group
than the G-8, has assumed the mantle of global economic coordination.
    Global Sugar Alliance members support the G-20 Leaders' Pittsburgh
commitment "to adopt a set of policies, regulations and reforms to meet the
needs of the 21st century global economy," and recognise that to achieve this
outcome, two major global issues must be addressed:
    1. The threat of climate change. Climate change is becoming a reality that
cannot be addressed in any other way than by coordinated global action.
    2. The Doha Round of trade negotiations. Almost a decade from its
inception, the World Trade Organization (WTO)'s Doha round of negotiations,
conceived to free up trade in agricultural products and enable faster
development of the world's poorest economies, still has not delivered an
outcome.
    The sugarcane industry has the potential to make a significant
contribution to resolving both these issues, if governments will allow it to
do so. Sugarcane is primarily a developing country crop. Free and fair trade
in its two principal products, sugar and ethanol, can promote economic growth
and development as well as help efficiently address the need for clean,
renewable transport fuels.
    Yet, domestic sugar and ethanol policies in many countries are failing the
environment and consumers. Restricting the access to ethanol from
environmentally friendly producers worldwide is slowing the response to
climate change pressures. Trade distorting policies have been used in the
richest countries to support high domestic prices, while preferential access
arrangements for limited volumes are used to appease producers in the poorest
countries. These policies result in disproportionate benefits for small, yet
well-funded domestic lobby groups that maintain political pressure in support
of their cause.
The United States government's sugar program is an unfortunate example of
a policy hijacked by these special interests. In a country of 300 million
consumers, a small group of producers (roughly 6,500 beet growers and less
than 1,000 cane farmers) control U.S. sugar policy. At a time when sugar
policy in the European Union is slowly becoming less trade distorting, U.S.
policy is becoming even more protectionist.
    The Global Sugar Alliance remains concerned that WTO negotiations are
still providing escape routes for so called "sensitive" and "special" products
such as sugar.  Smaller tariff reductions, limited quota expansions and other
concessions will continue to provide loopholes for politically active
producers in the richest economies to exploit, reducing the economic
opportunity for others. At the same time, the richest countries are seeking
market access concessions from the poorest.
    Ministers commenced the Doha Round with strong ambition, seeking
"comprehensive negotiations aimed at: substantial improvements in market
access, reductions of, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export
subsidies, and substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support."
(Doha Ministerial Declaration, November 2001).
    The Doha Round must deliver real improvements in market access as well as
cuts in subsidies and protection to ensure our farmers, the vast majority in
developing countries, see genuine change in the world sugar market. All WTO
Members have endorsed this commitment at the highest level.  To achieve it,
leadership is required. We urge WTO negotiators to meet the challenge.
    Ultimately, decisions to open markets will be made at home. Individual
countries and governments will be required to make difficult decisions in the
face of domestic pressures to support industries. The U.S. and the G-20 must
take the lead. Working at home, opening their economies to trade will build
economic strength, support growth and break the Doha deadlock.
    Global Sugar Alliance members are strong advocates for trade reform. We
see the bigger picture and support our governments' efforts for trade
liberalisation. Our future depends on their success.
    ABOUT US: The Global Alliance for Sugar Trade Reform and Liberalization
brings together 85% of the world raw cane exports. The Global Sugar Alliance
members (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, India, Guatemala, South
Africa and Thailand) are active advocates to improve the world sugar trading
environment. Members works closely together to ensure the fair and equal
treatment of sugar and ethanol in the WTO negotiations on agriculture so that
markets are allowed to work. For more information, visit
www.globalsugaralliance.org
    FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Ian McMaster (Chairman), +61 419 476 980
Warren Males, +61 417 002 325
SOURCE  The Global Alliance for Sugar Trade Reform and Liberalization

Ian McMaster, Chairman, +61-419-476-980, or Warren Males, +61-417-002-325, of
The Global Alliance for Sugar Trade Reform and Liberalization
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