THE EU is set to appeal against a WTO decision (Oct 15) that has ruled certain EU sugar exports illegal.

Calls for the appeal came from the International Confederation of European Beet growers (CIBE) and are backed by the National Farmers Union (NFU).

The WTO sugar panel found that subsidised sugar exports of around 1.6m tonnes exceeded budgetary outlays and quantity commitments under the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture.

The panel also ruled that the export of ‘C quota‘ sugar is effectively cross subsidised by the profits from A & B quota production and is against global trade rules.

“This is a disappointing but not unexpected decision for British sugar beet growers,” said NFU sugar board chairman, Mike Blacker.

“As a member of CIBE we fully support calls for an appeal.

“It is hard to predict what effect the WTO ruling might have here in the UK where sugar exports make up a relatively small proportion of the market.”

The appeals process is likely to formally begin on Nov 24/25, after which time the sugar panel will have 90 days in which to make a final decision.

“With the appeals process unlikely to be completed before February next year the rate of European sugar reform may somewhat pre-empt the final ruling,” added Mr Blacker.