BREXIT offers a “golden opportunity” to free British manufacturers and businesses from Brussels protectionism, says a West Midlands MEP.
UKIP’s James Carver is supporting a campaign started by the boss of Tate & Lyle Sugars to allow beet and sugar cane to compete on a level playing field.
The company’s senior vice president Gerald Mason launched Brexit Golden Opportunity – a play on words with the firm’s famous sticky product Lyle’s Golden Syrup – to lobby for an end to the EU’s damaging sugar policy.
The price of beet sugar in Europe is kept artificially low, with 10 of the 19 member states that grow it benefitting from an annual EU subsidy of 170 million Euros.
Prices will be pushed down even further in October when EU beet producers are deregulated.
The EU sugar policy stops cane sugar refiners from competing by limiting who they can buy raw cane sugar from and, in many cases, charging huge tariffs.
Backing the campaign, Mr Carver said it highlighted the “crippling burden” of EU tariffs on the cane sugar industry with tariff barriers reportedly costing the refinery as much as £2.5 million on each boat of cane sugar Tate & Lyle buy.
He said: “We can only ensure that Brussels protectionism stops holding back our businesses by leaving the customs union, regaining control of our trade policy.
“This will allow long-established companies like Tate & Lyle to go from downsizing and job cuts, to growth, and enable raw cane sugar producers in the developing world the opportunity they also need to operate on a level playing field.”
Mr Carver, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs spokesman, added: “The sugar cane tariff is one example of how the EU's protectionist policies are stifling agricultural producers in the developing world, preventing those countries from trading their way out of aid dependency.
“Once we escape the EU’s protectionism, we will be better placed to help provide sustainable livelihoods for the world’s poorest people, by giving them better access to the British market, rather than so many hand-outs that are often misused or wrongly directed.”
Mr Carver said the aim of the Brexit Golden Opportunity campaign was not to undermine the UK’s beet sugar producers with cheap cane sugar imports but to enable both sectors of the sugar industry to have parity.