Brexit: an opportunity for our sugar?

first_imgThe entire world, including Britain and the European Union (EU) are attempting to grapple with the implications of the British electorate mandating their Government that they must “leave” the EU (Brexit).While there are some, like Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge who have already commented on whether our “handouts” from the EU will be affected, maybe it is time the Ministry of Agriculture and Greenidge consider whether there are any opportunities in the divorce that can be grasped by our beleaguered sugar industry.As we all know, the EU began revising its sugar regime since 2006, including the Lome Protocol for purchasing sugar from us as a member of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group that was supposed to exist in perpetuity. As a result, our sugar prices were slashed by 36% which forced several producers in the Caribbean to exit sugar production and our industry to fall into a tailspin in the wake of efforts to reduce production costs through the Skeldon Modernisation Project.The focus of the EU in all the sugar regimes it crafted has been to protect its beet sugar industry by providing it with huge subsidies. In the meantime our sugar which had been shipped to Britain to the Tate & Lyle Sugar (TLS) on the Thames for refining was incorporated into the EU regime in 1973 and modified accordingly in the following years.Cane Sugar has been treated as a stepchild and TLS has seen its refineries gradually decrease from six to one. And even that single refinery is only operating at 59% of its 1.1million tonnes capacity.In 2012, TLS launched a “Save our Sugar” campaign and asserted: “If current and proposed EU policies continue to unfairly restrict access to raw sugar, cane refiners will not survive as part of the supply mix in Europe’s sugar sector”.In the next two years according to Art 50 of the EU Charter, Britain and the EU will be negotiating the terms of the former’s exit. The EU’s entire sugar regime which address three main areas: quota management, a reference price and a minimum guaranteed price to growers, and trade measures, will have to be replaced by Britain with a new regime.The quota management, which limits production to 13.5 tonnes of sugar is divided up between 19 member states and there are strict rules for overproduction would have ended as of 30 September, 2017.Because beet farming in Britain has never been on a scale as say France and Germany, and British farmers never received subsidies on the scale of their European counterparts, the British Government will not be faced with the same level of pressure when they negotiate new Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) in cane sugar.This will be necessary even though the ACP countries have duty access under the extant agreement and since volume quotas can be continued, Guyana can increase shipment of its sugar what would still be higher prices than the residual world market prices.TLS has been leading the charge for renegotiation of cane sugar trade arrangements before the old arrangement expired in 2017. It can be a potent ally with countries such as Guyana.Guyana has another reason for securing the support of TLS with which it has been associated for the entire long history of the firm.TLS is part of a growing evolution of cane sugar producers that have begun to integrate vertically to achieve efficiencies of scale. It was acquired by American Sugar Refiners (ASR) which had already bought over Belize Sugar Industries.TLS is already intimately knowledgeable about the situation with Guyana’s sugar, where there does not appear to be the commitment towards reorganising it with the new corporate supply chain linkages developing.Guyana should not be agonising about “aid”, which in the end simply exacerbates our dependency syndrome. By seeking a strategic alliance with TLS, we may be able to provide employment to our citizens in sugar so they can live in dignity.last_img read more

US must observe nuclear deal if it wants talks Iran

first_imgKuala Lumpur: The United States must observe a landmark nuclear deal and halt “economic terrorism” against Iran if it wants to hold talks, the Islamic republic’s foreign minister said Thursday. Tehran and Washington have been locked in a bitter standoff since last year when US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 deal that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its atomic programme. Trump said Monday he was ready to meet Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani within weeks, in a potential breakthrough reached during a G7 summit in the French seaside resort of Biarritz. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USBut Rouhani has said Washington must first lift sanctions imposed since its withdrawal from the nuclear deal, and Foreign Minister i9ijjjjMohammad Javad Zarif reiterated that message. “The United States is engaged in economic war against the Iranian people, and it won’t be possible for us to engage with the United States unless they stop imposing a war, engaging in economic terrorism against the Iranian people,” he told reporters during a visit to Malaysia, “We spoke to the United States, we spoke at length with the United States, we reached an agreement and they need to implement the agreement that we have reached before they expect to have more talks,” he added, referring to the nuclear deal. Iran was still talking to other world powers involved in the deal, he said. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls”If (the US) wants to come back to the room there is a ticket that they need to purchase, and that ticket is to observe the agreement,” he added. Trump’s announcement this week came after Zarif travelled to France on Sunday for the second time in a matter of days, and held meetings on the sidelines of the G7 summit. US Defence Secretary Mark Esper also called Wednesday for Iran to enter discussions with the US to ease tensions in the Gulf region. “We are not seeking conflict with Iran. We want to engage with them diplomatically,” Esper said. In response to the US withdrawal and its imposition of crippling sanctions, Iran has hit back by abandoning commitments under the nuclear deal. Meanwhile, The EU’s diplomatic chief said Thursday that the bloc would support talks between the US and Tehran, but only if the current nuclear deal with Iran is preserved. Tehran and Washington have been locked in a bitter standoff since last year when US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 deal that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its atomic programme. The idea of direct talks between Washington and Tehran as a way out of the crisis has grown this week after Trump mooted the idea and the new US defense secretary urged Iran’s leaders to engage. The EU has desperately sought to stop the deal from collapsing completely, arguing it is the best way to stop Iran developing nuclear bombs. EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini gave a cautious welcome to the idea of negotiations, after Trump said Monday he was ready to meet Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani within weeks. “We are always in favour of talks, the more people talk, the more people understand each other the better, on the basis of clarity and on the basis of respect,” Mogherini said as she arrived for a meeting of EU foreign and defence ministers in Helsinki. But she added “first and foremost what is existing needs to be preserved” — specifically the 2015 deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA. “We will always advocate for the full respect by all sides of the UNSC resolutions and that includes the JCPOA,” she said. At the G7 summit in Biarritz, Trump showed openness to French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal of a summit with Rouhani. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper followed up on Wednesday by urging Tehran to engage, but Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted Washington must respect the deal and halt what he called “economic terrorism” against his country.last_img read more

US judge allows North Dakota pipeline construction in conflict zone as Sioux

first_img(The Crow Creek Riders at the ongoing anti Dakota Access Pipeline protest. Photo credit: Natalie Hand, Lakota Media Project via Red Warrior Camp/Facebook)Dennis Ward and Jorge Barrera APTN National News STANDING ROCK SIOUX RESERVATION—A U.S. Federal Court judge on Tuesday allowed construction of a controversial four-state, $3.78 billion pipeline to continue in a conflict area the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says contains burial grounds and sacred sites.The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)—which is slated to pump Bakken-fracked oil from North Dakota to Illinois—is facing fierce resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The tribe fears the pipeline threatens the area’s water supply and sacred sites.The 1,886 kilometre pipeline passes near the edge of its reservation and under the Missouri River.Standing Rock has the backing of dozens of other Native American tribes. This has led to the one of the largest gatherings of Native Americans in the U.S. over the past century in an area near the pipeline’s path.While the ruling, handed down by U.S. Federal Court Judge James Boasberg after a hearing in Washington D.C., gave the Sioux a partial victory, it won’t stop pipeline construction in an area that has already seen conflict between Indigenous demonstrators and a private security firm hired by the company leading the construction.The judge ordered a halt to pipeline construction east Lake Oahe in North Dakota, but the area is already nearing end of development activity.Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault said the ruling was a “partial win, partial loss” because the judge allowed construction to continue in an area to the west which contains sacred sites and burial grounds important to the Sioux.“We are disappointed that the decision doesn’t prevent DAPL from destroying sacred sites as we await the ruling to stop construction all together,” said Archambault in a video statement. “It’s not over, we still have a long way to go.”Archambault called for calm on both sides.“Even though this is a disappointment we still have to remain peaceful and respectful,” he said. “I ask that we refrain from using violence, I ask that we refrain from using verbal abuse or physical abuse on anyone. And I ask that for both sides.”Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault in a still image from video statement.Boasberg allowed construction in an area west of Lake Oahe in Morton County, North Dakota, which saw clashes Saturday between attack dog-handling private security guards and Native American demonstrators trying to stop bulldozers from destroying land found to hold a burial ground and historical sites.Two Indigenous demonstrators on Tuesday chained themselves to construction equipment in the same area.Julie Richards, an Oglala Lakota warrior, fastens herself to construction equipment Tuesday. Red Warrior Camp/FacebookA subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer is constructing the pipeline. Energy Transfer did not return a request for comment from APTN.Tuesday’s ruling was a skirmish in a larger legal battle  expected to come to a head on Friday when the same judge is expected to rule on an injunction filed by the Standing Rock Sioux to stop the pipeline. The tribe was looking to temporarily halt all construction until Friday’s expected ruling.The tribe is challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to give the operators permits to construct the pipeline which would have the capacity to pump up to 570,000 barrels per day from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois.Standing Rock was a signatory to the April 9, 1868, Treaty of Fort Laramie which established the Great Sioux Reservation covering all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River.The Sioux-led resistance to the pipeline has become a rallying point in the larger environmental battle over climate change. The Sacred Stone Camp set up on the Standing Rock reservation is expected to grow to about 10,000 people this week ahead of Friday’s expected U.S. Federal Court ruling.Last Saturday’s confrontation with the private security firm has done little to deter the resolve of the thousands of people who have travelled Standing Rock.Sophie Watson drove eight hours from Minnesota to be here when the ruling comes down. Watson said she was sickened to see videos of dogs and pepper spray being used against the demonstrators.Another Indigenous camp supporter who identified himself Quiltman said he came from Oregon to protect the water. He said the camp was “good medicine” and called last Saturday’s actions by the private security guards “cold blooded.”He said it’s time to turn the tables.“Our people have always gotten the short end. We can handle it,” he said.The Sioux tribe’s resistance to the pipeline has also drawn considerable support from Indigenous leaders and grassroots activists from Canada. Southern Chiefs Organization Grand Chief Terry Nelson, from Manitoba, and Grand Council of the Crees Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come, from Quebec, recently visited the camp.The Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Canada’s largest Indigenous organization, also put its support behind Standing Rock’s opposition to the pipeline on Tuesday.AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said “no pipeline construction should ever begin” until “Indigenous peoples have provided free, prior and informed consent.”AFN Manitoba regional Chief Kevin Hart visited the pipeline resistance camp on behalf of the organization.“The call of the Standing Rock Sioux has echoed across Turtle Island. Now it is up to us to respond by standing up to defend these precious waters and sacred lands,” said Hart, in the statement.Canada faces its own looming pipeline conflicts as the regulatory gears begin to turn on the Energy East pipeline which would transport Alberta mined bitumen to an Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, NB.According to reports, the North Dakota portion of the pipeline is 60 per cent completed and 90 per cent finished in South [email protected]@[email protected]@JorgeBarreralast_img read more