6 March 2001
Brussels reassures on sugar

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

THE worlds poorest countries will not be allowed to abuse their preferential access to the European Union sugar market, Brussels has pledged.

EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy said the European commission would suspend trade immediately if any abuse was discovered.

Border protection is due to be wound down over the next eight years – initially by expanding duty-free quotas for the 48 countries covered.

Tariffs will also be progressively removed in the latter stages.

British farmers believe the system will be abused, with traders diverting sugar from other sources through these countries to flood the EU market.

As part of the deal struck by EU foreign ministers last week, the commission is also committed to review the programme in 2005.