9 March 2001

Move to calm sugar growers unease

TRADE commissioner Pascal Lamy has given explicit assurances that he will not allow the worlds poorest countries to abuse their preferential access to the EU sugar market under the controversial "everything but arms" agreement.

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.

UK farmer and sugar interests have expressed grave concerns in recent months that the system will be abused, with traders diverting sugar from other sources through these countries to flood the European market.

But this week Mr Lamy told the NFU that the commission would suspend trade immediately if any abuse was discovered. &#42