Australia protests ‘illegal’ EU sugar exports

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 18th February 2010

Australian representatives will today meet with World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva to protest over-quota sugar exports by the European Union, which they maintain are in breach of WTO agreements.

SugarAlong with Brazil and Thailand, who will also attend the meeting, Australia is the world’s biggest sugar exporter, with an annual revenue of around $2 billion.  The decision by the EU to increase sugar exports, announced in January, has caused worldwide sugar prices to drop 15%; previously, prices had been riding on a 29-year high, caused by underproduction in the sugar-hungry market of India.

Under WTO agreements, the EU limits its sugar exports to 1.27 million tonnes.  With the increase, its total export will come to 1.85 million tonnes.  Australia produces 5.25 million tonnes of raw sugar annually, exporting over 4 million tonnes.

“At an industry level, Thailand, Brazil and Australia are absolutely committed to oppose the EU’s decision,” said Ian Ballantyne, head of Australia’s canegrowers lobby. “We believe we have the absolute support of our governments.”

This dispute follows a 2005 WTO ruling in favour of the three sugar-producing nations against the EU over subsidised sugar exports.