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EU plan could kill CARICOM sugar industry
The long awaited European Union (EU) sugar trading reform plan has been announced and it could spell the death of the sugar industry in CARICOM countries. The plan calls for slashing internal prices by some 40 per cent, scrapping the safety-net intervention system and reducing EU output to shake up a policy widely criticised as distorting world trade.
This plan would see sugar prices dropping by 20% next year and down by 33% in 2007reeking havoc on the African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP). Guyana would be among the hardest hit and has reacted with denunciation and protest demonstrations by both manufacturers and unions. This is because Guyana is most heavily dependent on sugar and stands to lose US$200 per ton of sugar, which on an export base of 167,000 tons would be equivalent to US$33M a year. Employment consequences are even worse as an estimated 125,000 Guyanese would lose their jobs.
In front of the European Delegation to Guyana’s office in Georgetown, vocal protestors chanted so appropriately, `Without sugar all Guyana will suffer' and `European Union reform has destroyed banana, rice and rum and if it succeeds sugar will be the next victim'.
Guyana estimates sugar production costs 18 cents per pound and hopes to reduce it to 12 cents in four years. However, this seems unlikely now since this EU plan would reduce the current price from 26 cents per pound to about 16 cents.
Caricom leaders facing the certain doom of the industry are scrambling to lobby for a revision of so devastating a plan. Even EU member countries who produce beet sugar will suffer by these drastic price cuts. In the words of an angry Farm Minister of Ireland, "I can state emphatically, even at this early stage, that these (proposals) are unacceptable to Ireland. The effect of the proposed price reductions, even allowing for compensation, would be to make sugar beet growing and sugar manufacture no longer viable in Ireland". This was the typical reaction of several other EU members.
However, this plan is not etched in stone and hopefully substantial revisions will be made to reduce these dire consequences.
Venezuela proposes cheap oil prices for Caribbean
Once again Venezuela is proposing special low prices for oil to Caribbean countries. Venezuela proposed a company called PetroCaribe, which would distribute crude and refined oil products to thirteen Caribbean countries at cheaper prices than other dealers in the area, said its Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez.
Ramirez discussed the new agreement with representatives and ministers from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Venezuela also would aid Caribbean countries in their own oil enterprises.
Venezuela already has a deal with several countries in the Caribbean
for preferential oil prices, but Ramirez said that the dealers that
distribute fuel in the area sell them at unfair prices. With PetroCaribe
"we will check speculative factors and sometimes obscene profit
margins that are placed on the products", said Ramirez during the
meeting in Caracas.
Editor’s Comment: This is an amazingly generous and virtually unprecedented offer by President Hugo Chavez and it seems an act of this magnitude hardly gets much press or generates much praise. The Caribbean countries are very fortunate that :
Editorial: Rally round the NAACP
It is an unassailable fact that Caribbean residents of the US owe a lot to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This organisation continues to expose, and defend black people from, discrimination and injustice all over the land. It has compiled an impressive record for which every Caribbean person here in the US should be grateful and never take for granted. It has earned the title as the foremost civil rights organization here in America.
The NAACP has an obligation to black people to be frank and honest in warning them of the grave danger that George Bush is to them. He and his cronies have cheated thousands of their basic right as a citizen, a right for which NAACP leaders like Medgar Evers has died. This basic right is the right to vote. The George Bush presidency depended on the depriving of thousands of black people of this right to vote and these attempts continue even today.
Just because the Democratic leadership has been wishy-washy in their criticism of this atrocious president, now Bush thinks that all criticism of him should be wish-washy too. This wishy-washy policy has become so established, anytime any group or person speaks out frankly of the Bush atrocities, they are targeted for abuse and retaliation by Republicans and their many minions in the press. I am glad and relieved that the NAACP will not allow themselves to be muzzled.
Now Bush is trying to play the Urban League against the NAACP, the old divide and rule strategy. Like he did with the UN, he is trying to make them irrelevant. It is time for all legitimate black and civil rights organizations to stick together. If Bush refuses to speak with the NAACP, then he should not be invited to speak to the Urban League or any other black or civil rights organization.
So Caribbean people, remember that George Bush is not your friend. The NAACP is not only your friend, but your ally and your savior. So, rally round the NAACP and join today!
US show Montserrat nationals the door
Montserrat nationals living in the US will have to get out. When the volcanic eruptions in 1995 and 1997 forced two thirds of the residents to flee their destroyed country, they settled abroad. In the US at least 200 received Temporary Protected Status which allowed them to legally stay and work here.
Now the US has announced that it will be scrapping that TPS program for Montserrat nationals early next year. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS),Tom Ridge, said the decision to discontinue the program was made after the situation on the island was reviewed. Even though they could be forced to go back to unlivable conditions, he said it was found that the island's living status no longer falls under TPS category.
Jamaica’s third Prime Minister, Hugh Lawson Shearer has been laid to
rest. He died at his home after a long illness. He was 81.
Energy crisis stalls Dominican Republic
The President elect of the Dominican Republic Leonel Fernandez and the out going president Hipolito Mejia, have agreed to implement plans to solve the current electricity crisis in the country. An American electricity firm which is one of the main suppliers of power, has shut down because of the government's outstanding debt. Ever since this American company took over prices have soared. In 2003 crowds protested the price hikes. In one instance nine people were killed when police were brought in to quell riots after blackouts lasting up to 20 hours . The name of the American company is well known here in the US. It is Enron, Enron-Smith.
Blackouts are rampant. A local newspaper, La Hoy, reports Electricity production is now as it was in the 80s. Power availability is said to be at 50% of demand. Likewise collections are at an all time low, as the population cringes from paying for blackouts.
Shopping malls are run on generators and are open for very limited hours. In addition, stores of LPG ran out at the Dominican Oil Refinery (REFIDOMSA) and diesel had to rationed .
United States Trade Representative Robert B Zoellick announced on Friday, 23 July the official signing of the Free Trade Agreements recently negotiated with the Dominican Republic and five Central American countries. The signing is scheduled for 5 August in Washington, DC. Trade ministers from the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua will be on hand to sign on behalf of their respective nations, resulting in an agreement among the seven countries to be known as the United States-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). The new agreement builds on the recently signed United States-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
Guyana Wildlife head fired for exporting dolphins
The head of Guyana's wildlife management authority has been fired for allegedly authorising the export of dolphins and other animals without approval from the government and in violation of international agreements. The wildlife authority's board terminated his contract for:
CARICOM names CCJ Chief Justice
CARICOM leaders have named retired Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago, Michael de la Bastide, to head the proposed Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its president. De la Bastide :
The CCJ is slated to replace the Privy Council as the final court of appeal for criminal and civil matters for several Caribbean countries. The proposed court's critics have raised objections ranging from the quality of jurisprudence in the Caribbean, to the inadequacies of the justice system in the region, to fear that the court will be under-funded and the possibility of political interference.
CARICOM won’t recognize Haiti Govt.
Despite US pressure, Caribbean leaders again withheld recognition of Haiti's new U.S.-backed government, opting instead to send a delegation to the island nation to discuss their terms for restoring ties, officials said. This was one of the e decisions which came out of the CARICOM summit which ended recently.
Anti-dumping victory for local cement company
The Carib Cement Company in Jamaica has won new life in its battle against imported cement. The Anti-Dumping and Subsidies Commission (ADSC) has made a ruling in their favour in recommending a 25.83% duty on imported cement. This means the imported cement was dumped in Jamaica which in turn means that the imported cement was sold at artificially low prices in order to bankrupt the local company and thus capture the Jamaica market exclusively. This ruling is not only significant to Carib Cement but has positive implications for the manufacturing sector in Jamaica.
This ruling will give Carib Cement some breathing room so that they can go ahead with confidence to invest some J$100 million in their plant to bring it up to international standards. Dumped foreign cement had reduced its local market share to as low as 68%. Since November of last year when imported cement supplies began dwindling, it sales have picked up tremendously. Carib Cement now has 96 per cent of the market. Last year over 200,000 tones of imported cement (regarded as dumped) was sold in Jamaica. So far this year 62,000 tons of imported cement has entered the country.
Fire destroys Port Antonio courthouse records office
Fire-fighters investigating the cause of a fire at the Port Antonio Courthouse morning say they believe it may have been deliberately started. Damage is estimated at $3 million. The fire destroyed sections of the Port Antonio courthouse especially the records office located on the lower floor of the two floor building where the fire was concentrated.
The courthouse is designated a heritage building and Jamaica’s
National Commercial Bank has vowed to restore it to its original glory at
their own expense.
CARICOM leaders urged to reject WTO demands
Enough already! Caribbean governments are being urged to
reject any agreement which does not meet at least 95 per cent of their
demands in ongoing talks with the World Trade Organization (WTO). Some
of the demands include increased market access to developed countries and
the elimination of developed country subsidies.
10 Jamaican women cops for Liberia peacekeeping
TEN Jamaican women police officers will be sent to Liberia, as of next weekend, as part of a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in the war-torn West African country that is struggling to recover after years of civil war. The officers will serve for a year and one of their main tasks will be to train Liberian police women.
The party of Jamaican peacekeeping officers, which will join a UN civilian peacekeeping force, is made up largely of women. This is consistent with the UN mission's objective of raising awareness in respect of gender, gender-based violence and gender issues in policing.
Following years of violent conflict, Liberia has been, since last October, governed by a National Transitional Government which has been mandated to prepare the country for elections in October. The transitional government was established following a comprehensive peace agreement reached in September between warring factions.
Barbados opposition leader steps down
Barbados' Opposition leader, Clyde Mascoll, is stepping down as
President of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP). Mr. Mascoll, who took over
the reigns of the party three years ago, following the sudden resignation
of David Thompson, is expected to make an official announcement at the
party's 49th Annual Conference next month.
Jamaica passes controversial praedial larceny bill
One of the greatest scourges to farmers in Jamaica is praedial larceny. This is the petty theft of their crops. At last the Government has passed the amendment to the Agricultural Produce Act, the legislation which is aimed at fighting praedial larceny. Praedial larceny is estimated to cost the island's farmers millions every year.
The bill had been stalled as the Opposition expressed concern about the problems that could arise as a result of the stipulation that persons transporting agricultural produce must have receipts. After consultations between both sides of the House, it was agreed that the Act would give the police discretionary powers to determine if the quantities are for domestic use.
Merlene Ottey wins again
Merlene Ottey is back! She had a great victory in the 100 meters in the Estonian capital, Tallinn. At the EAA meeting "Tallinn 2004" the 44-year-old Ottey showed her rising form by running a new season best yet again and improving to 11.18 sec over 100 meters. The time was her fastest race with legal wind in 4 years and also a new Slovenian record as well as the 5th fastest time by a European woman this season. It is a Slovenian record. Ottey, probably the greatest Jamaican woman sprinter, has become a Slovenian citizen after the awful international spectacle of her fellow Jamaican teammates protesting against her selection to run the 100meters in the last Olympics. Ironically, Peta Gaye-Dowdy, who had the support of the protestors then, was also in this race and finished 6th.
WI begin Test series with defeat
Test 1 (at Lords)
1st Innings: England 568 (RWT Key 221, AJ Straus 137, MP Vaughan 103, Collins 4 for 113); WI 416 (S Chanderpaul 128 n.o., CH Gayle 66, Giles 4 for 129)
2nd Innings: England 325 for 5 dec. (MP Vaughan 101 n.o., A. Flintoff 58,); WI 267 (S Chanderpaul 97 n.o., CH Gayle 81, Giles 5 for 81
2006 CONCACAF semi-final stage set
World Cup playoffs for the Confederation of of North and Central America and the Caribbean Association of Football (CONCACAF) moves to the semi-final stage for that region.
The top two teams in each of the following three groups will advance to the final stage. Then, there will be one group of six teams. The top three teams qualify automatically for the finals. The fourth placed team will play-off with the winner of a knock-out match in the Asian region.
Fixtures For the First 3 Rounds (Home team first)
August 17, 2004
August 18, 2004
September 4, 2004
September 8, 2004
Lazaroni takes over the Reggae Boyz
As World Cup fever heats up, the Jamaica Football Federation made a sudden, unexpected and baffling move. They brought back Brazilian Sebastiao Lazaroni to be head coach of the national team, the Reggae Boyz. This move comes at such a late and critical time as they meet top ranked USA on August 18 in Jamaica. Lazeroni had a three month stint as technical director with the national squad in 2000 and quit suddenly complaining of lack of playing time for the foreign-based players. It was a losing 3 months so from ‘Lazeroni’ he became ‘Lose-and-run-away’. Former Jamaican head coach Carl Brown, who guided the team to playoff victory over stubborn Haiti, will switch to technical director.
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