Earlier today, a group of London MPs and trade unionists wrote to David Cameron asking that he consider including the removal of import tariffs on raw cane sugar in his EU renegotiations. The letter coincided with the Prime Minister's visit to the European Council  in Brussels where he planned to set out his EU reform demands.

The thirteen signatories of the letter have asked the Prime Minister to commit to remove import tariffs on raw cane sugar in order to protect jobs at the Tate & Lyle sugar refinery in the Royal Docks. The company - which is the UK's last remaining cane sugar refiner - has previously said it would be better off outside the European Union unless David Cameron secures major reforms before the referendum in 2017. 

The letter states: "The UK government has always supported achievement of a level playing field between beet and cane. However the latest policy changes are deeply protectionist. Restrictions have been removed from beet production, but heavy duties on cane imports have been left untouched." The signatories of the letter note that the removal of raw cane sugar imports could be achieved without complicated treaty change.

Tate & Lyle saw sales fall when the EU began scaling back its market regulation of beet sugar rather than the cane sugar that the firm imports.  In a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph, Gerald Mason, head of T&L Sugars in the UK said: “If we carry on down this route it puts our business and the jobs here under real threat...We see the Government’s renegotiation as the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the last chance if you like, to keep what’s left.”

To read the letter in full, click here.

AuthorStephen Timms