Sweet jobs need protection from Indian subsidies
NORTHERN NSW sugar producers have welcomed news that Brazil has joined Australia to lodge a formal complaint against India with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about subsidies to their sugar products, a move that could protect local jobs.
Brazil and Australia launched a formal dispute with the WTO this week, claiming subsidies paid to farmers in India have led to a 'sugar glut' and depressed global prices.
The Australian Sugar Milling Council estimated the cost of the Indian subsidies to the Australian industry is more than $460 million.
Sunshine Sugar is the retail name used for the NSW sugar industry, which includes 500 cane growers and more than 1000 direct and indirect employees.
Sunshine Sugar Chief Executive Officer Chris Connors said the company produces approximately two million tons of sugar in the Clarence, Richmond and Tweed valleys.
These operations contribute over 200 million dollars per annum to the northern rivers economy.
Mr Connors said the Indian sugar subsidies impact on the world sugar price.
"Effectively, the subsidy system drops more subsidised sugar on to the world market and lowers the price," he said.
"Even though the majority of our sugar is sold through our refinery on to the domestic market, prices are set against the world price (set by) the ICE 11 (the world benchmark contract for raw sugar trading), hence it impacts on the price Sunshine Sugar and its growers receive."
Mr Connors said Northern Rivers consumers can support local growers by preferring their products.
"Continue to buy local product and support Australian owned," he said.
"The general public is probably not aware that the CSR brands are owned by Singaporian giant Wilmar and Bundaberg Sugar is Belgian owned.
"Sunshine Sugar is now the only sugar refinery 100% Australian owned.
"We are also the only Australian operation that is fully Bonsucro certified."
Bonsucro is an international not for-profit organisation established in 2008 to promote sustainable sugar cane.
The Australian Government first lodged a counter-notification with the WTO, in relation to India's sugar practices, last November.