Euro chamber pushes direct sugar imports

PHOTOGRAPH BY KING RODRIGUEZ FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE | President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. talks to Jens Reubbert (right), incoming chairman of the EU-ASEAN Business Council, during the gala dinner hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and the EU-ASEAN Business Council at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Manila yesterday, 25 May. At the event, which was an avenue to further discuss ways of championing the Philippines forward, and celebrating camaraderie and the long-standing relations between Europe and the Philippines, are Ambassador to the EU to the Philippines Luc Véron, and ECCP president Lars Wittig, among others.

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines has called on the Marcos administration to focus on raising the productivity and competitiveness of the country’s agricultural yields, particularly sugar.

In a 125-page advocacy paper, the ECCP said food security remains one of its advocacies, especially now that prices of food products are skyrocketing while supply challenges persist.

“However, we are also aware of the stark reality that given the decreasing hectares for a sugar plantation and the increasing demand by the growing population, the domestic supply of sugar will not be sufficient to meet the needs of both manufacturers and consumers,” the group said.

With this, the ECCP backed the proposal of allowing direct importation of sugar for the affected industries, subject to guidelines to be crafted by the appropriate agencies.

It may be recalled that the proposal was first made by companies that use sugar as an ingredient like soft drink makers.

It said the importation by the affected industries must be the last resort and only to ensure an adequate supply of sugar in the market.

The chamber said the importation must not adversely affect local sugar planters and millers and should be done in close collaboration with the concerned industries and affected stakeholders.

This will help ensure that the policy will strike a balance between the needs of the industries and the interest of the local sugar planters and millers, it added.

The ECCP said sugar is one of the staple consumer goods in the Philippines as it is in numerous manufactured goods that Filipinos need and enjoy on a day-to-day basis.

In a hearing last Tuesday at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin maintained that the importation of sugar pushed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was not irregular, noting that a sugar order is not needed to bring in sugar to the country.

“To us, in the Office of the President, we have committed no irregularity, no violation when we issued that sugar order,” Bersamin said.

“Neither was there any violation committed by any of the parties involved in this questioned transaction,” he added.

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