Britain to allow 260,000 T of tariff-free raw sugar imports

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is to allow 260,000 tonnes of raw sugar to be imported tariff-free in 2021 as it develops an independent trade policy for the first time in nearly 50 years.

The quota will cover more than half of Britain’s raw sugar imports which total about 400,000 tonnes per year.

The government decision to make the quota open to all is expected to benefit Brazil, potentially at the expense of higher cost producers in Africa and the Caribbean.

The imported raw sugar is converted into white sugar and other products for consumption at the country’s sole cane sugar refinery in London, owned by Tate and Lyle Sugars which is part of the Florida-based ASR Group.

Brazilian sugar industry group Unica hailed the measure, with the low-cost producer expected to be well placed to supply the quota and increase its shipments to Britain.

Unica said Brazilian sugar exports to the UK increased to 186,000 tonnes in 2020 from 79,000 tonnes in 2019, but believes shipments could increase further with the new tariff regime.

The tariff-free quota was, however, opposed by African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) sugar producers who argued they are now likely only to fulfil any small residual demand.

UK government data shows that from 2017 to 2019, Belize was the largest supplier of raw sugar to Britain followed by Guyana.

Britain is introducing a new global tariff regime to replace those implemented by the European Union following its departure from the bloc on Jan. 31 and the expiration of a transition agreement at the end of this year.

Reporting by Nigel Hunt in London and Marcelo Teixeira in New York; Editing by Kirsten Donovan