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October 21, 2001 - International Trade News

MPs Seek Assurances that Costa Rica Sugar Provisions will Never be Repeated

  • Solberg Defends Sugar Beet Producers on Canada Costa Rica Free Trade Deal
  • Alberta Sugar Beet Growers Address House of Commons Trade Committee

Ottawa - Medicine Hat M.P. Monte Solberg, spoke out yesterday on behalf of the concerns of local Taber sugar beet producers during committee hearings on Bill C-32, an Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Costa Rica. Also appearing before the committee was Bruce Webster, General Manager of the Alberta Sugar Beet Growers. The treatment of sugar under the deal has been a sensitive area of concern for the Canadian sugar industry as the agreement offers little export opportunities for Canadian sugar producers and a similar deal with Central American countries has the potential to disrupt the western Canada sugar market.

In practical terms the sugar pact will allow Costa Rica to export up to 40 000 metric tonnes of sugar into Canada while Canada will be given access to Costa Rica for up to 7000 metric tonnes. Canada currently has an open sugar market with an 8% tariff on refined sugar while Costa Rica applies a 50% tariff. U.S. and Latin American tariffs on sugar range from 50% to 160% providing a significant hurdle for Canadian sugar exporters.

Worried that the sugar deal signed with Costa Rica would become a template for upcoming negotiations with the Central America sugar exporting countries of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Mr. Solberg sought government assurances that that would not be the case. "Canadian sugar exporters face competition from countries with high tariffs and restrictive quotas, in fact since this government has been in power sugar access to the U.S. has decreased from 55 000 tonnes to 15, 000 tonnes," stated Solberg. The Taber area M.P.is an advocate of free trade as long as the rules are fair. "Time and again sugar has been traded away by this government to protect other interests," continued Solberg.

Further to interventions by Mr. Solberg and his Canadian Alliance colleagues, the government members on the committee have agreed to stipulate in its report on the Bill to the House of Commons that the sugar deal with Costa Rica will not be a precedent for future trade negotiations with Central America.


For more information, please contact:
Monte Solberg, M.P. (613) 992-4516