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Sugar refinery set-up to counter loss of quota

December 31
09:35 2013

Chinese delegates meet with sugar stakeholders

By JYOTI PRATIBHA

Fiji’s first refinery, which is earmarked to  open in Labasa will assist Fiji in countering the effects of the end of preferential quota agreement with the European Union.
The agreement comes to an end in 2017.
Sugar industry stakeholders led by Permanent Secretary for Sugar, Lieutenant-Colonel Manasa Vaniqi, yesterday met with the visiting Chinese delegates in Lautoka and briefed them on Fiji’s plans.
Sugar Tribunal Commissioner Timothy Brown told the delegates that the refinery was targeting to produce 400 tonnes of refined sugar per day.

Potential market for refined sugar
Locally, the industry expects to sell 8000 tonnes. This will include sales to  Coca-Cola Amatil (Fiji) Limited to be used in production of their soft drinks.
This refined sugar will need to meet the standard set out by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the company.
To the Pacific region (excluding Australia and New Zealand), 10,000 tonnes of sugar is expected to be sold.
To Australia and New Zealand, Fiji will continue selling its fair trade sugar.
Asia and China are also targeted markets.

Interest
The delegates have also shown keen interest to have raw Fijian sold to China.
While Fiji gets around $1000 per tonne from sugar sold to the European Union under the preferential quota, the delegates informed Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi and his team that this was sold rather cheaply.
Speaking through an interpreter, head of delegation Jian Dong Sheng said Chinese sugar was sold for around FJD1600. He said buying sugar from Fiji was something they were keen to explore at greater length.
The delegates also said Fiji’s molasses was sold cheaply and they also showed interest in purchasing of this as well.

Why Labasa?
The delegates heard that Labasa had its own port from which they could transport sugar easily.
Also, Labasa Mill has shown the capacity of processing 1.2million tonnes of cane and producing more than 100,000 tonnes of sugar.
The refinery would be powered through the co-generation project which is in place in Labasa.
Although recent projections on setting up the refinery has not been made, the initial cost to set up the refinery is expected to be around US$29 million (FJ$54.87).
“We cannot continue to rely on raw sugar thus the decision to set up the refinery in Labasa,” Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi said.
He said Government was looking at options for investing in the refinery.
The delegates will meet Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama this week. They also showed interest in visiting the Labasa Mill and the proposed site for the refinery.
Mr Sheng told the Fijian stakeholders to table a report outlining all their requirements, which they would present to the central Chinese Government.

From left: Translator Chen Yu, China Light Industry Enterprises Investment and Development Association president Li GuoDu, with the Permanent Secretary for Sugar Lieutenant-Colonel Manasa Vaniqi during the meeting at Sugar House in Lautoka yesterday. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA

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