Working Papers

Sugar: the implications of trade liberalisation for east and southern Africa

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09 Mar 2011

Author(s): Nick Vink, Ron Sandrey and Hans Grinsted Jensen

Sugar and sugar policies are at the heart of agriculture in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regions, and therefore the implications of changes to the sugar policy and trade regimes in the region are important when considering a regime change such as the proposed Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, East African Community and SADC (COMESA-EAC-SADC) ‘tripartite’ agreement. The objective of this paper is to examine these relationships and the possible implications of such an agreement.

The paper starts with an overview of global sugar production and trade to place Africa and the region in perspective. This reveals that analysis of the sugar industry is complicated by the heavy support given in the Organisation for Economic and Cooperation Development (OECD) countries to beet producers and how this in turn distorts the market for producers in the rest of the world. This is followed by a more detailed examination of the African sugar profile. Here the main conclusion is that African exports and imports of sugar are roughly in balance, but that not much of this is intra-African trade.

In the fourth section the agricultural production regimes in the tripartite countries of COMESA, EAC and SADC are examined to place sugar in perspective, while in Section 5 the sugar policy regime is analysed, followed in Section 6 by a discussion of the agricultural policies in the individual countries of the tripartite area. In Section 7 the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) model is used to assess the likely implications of a tripartite agreement for sugar production and trade.


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