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Belizean sugar gets preferential access to Taiwanese Market

Taiwanese confectionaries are likely to get an uptick in Central American sweetness, as another country located within the subregion that’s tucked away between the North and South Americas has joined the roster of jurisdictions with preferential access to this East Asian market.

Formally dubbed the “Agreement on Economic Co-operation between the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Government of Belize”, (the Partial Scope Agreement or PSA for short), the new trade deal grants Belize’s sugar up 35,000 Metric Tons (MT) of duty-free access. The traffic-rate quota (TRQ) for sugar, which is only one of 200 beneficiary commodity exports from Belize, represents close to 20% of the Central American country’s sugar production in 2019.

Speaking of that “roster”, despite the continental distance, Taiwan is no stranger to sugar imports from the subregion, as statistics indicate that it presently buys more than 20% of its approximately USD $119 million raw cane sugar (HS 170114) imports from Guatemala, a trade partner that also benefits from a 60,000 MT TRQ. Statistics for 2019 also show sizeable purchases from Belize’ neighbors such as El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras.

At present more than eighty percent of Belize’s raw sugar is sold to the United Kingdom, with approximately another 10% to the United States. The remaining 10% is exported to Caribbean countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Barbados, as well as other European states like Portugal.

Consequently, the new market access provides an additional impetus for the country’s two local producers—the American Sugar Refining (ASR)-owned Belize Sugar Industries Limited (ASR/BSI) and the Santander Sugar Group—to expand production by 15%.

The 2019/2020 sugar crop in the Central American country, which closed in July, had been severely impacted by recent drought conditions, where ASR/BSI’s production was reported down by more than 40%. A statement from the company reported, “The grinding season started [late] in mid-January due to the severe drought, cane production falling significantly to 893,662 MT compared to last year’s total of 1,317,626 MT of cane. Sugar production also fell to less than 88,000 in 189 days of milling compared to 156,646 MT of sugar produced over 214 days last year.”

The release also quoted the companies Vice President Mac McLachlan, saying, “The drought had a significant impact on production and the negative impact was far greater than expected.  However, due to the strategic value-added investment projects by the company, which allowed the mill to produce more direct consumption sugar this year, will help offset some of the negative impacts. As an industry, we must continue to improve production efficiencies while expanding markets.” 

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