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Act now to safeguard the homegrown sugar industry, farmers are told

PUBLISHED: 12:02 18 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:02 18 September 2020

Sugar beet growers have been urged to respond to a government consultation on import tariff quotas for raw sugar which the NFU says could expose the UK industry to unfair competition. Picture: Chris Hill

Sugar beet growers have been urged to respond to a government consultation on import tariff quotas for raw sugar which the NFU says could expose the UK industry to unfair competition. Picture: Chris Hill

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East Anglia’s sugar beet growers have been urged to respond to a government consultation on import tariffs and email their MP to “safeguard the homegrown sugar industry” from foreign competition.

Farming leaders fear a planned new zero-tariff quota on imported cane sugar could expose them to unfair competition from less-regulated overseas growers.

About half of the sugar consumed in the UK is made from beet, grown mainly across East Anglia and the East Midlands and processed at British Sugar’s four factories in Cantley near Acle, Wissington in west Norfolk, Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and Newark in Nottinghamshire.

The other half is made from sugar cane grown in tropical or sub-tropical nations, some of which are already offered concessions to support trade in the poorest, least developed countries.

But on top of that, the government plans to introduce of a new zero-tariff, 260,0000-tonne Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) for raw sugar coming into the UK from January 1, 2021

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has opened a consultation on the new tariff quota, which is open until 11.45pm on Monday 5 October.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has urged beet growers to make their voice heard in the consultation, and also to contact their MP to “reinforce the importance of the homegrown sugar industry”.

An NFU spokesman said: “A tariff free quota open to all countries will provide additional access to the UK market for raw sugar grown anywhere in the world, often produced following farming practices that would be considered illegal here.

READ MORE: New sugar tariff quota leaves a bitter taste for East Anglian beet farmers

“NFU Sugar believes the opening of a zero-tariff ATQ for raw sugar will distort competition in the sugar market and undermine the preferential access granted to developing countries.

“This is your opportunity to make your voice heard to safeguard the homegrown sugar industry.”

• To respond to the consultation, see the Department for International Trade website.


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