FIJI PRIME MINISTER IN LONDON FOR SUGAR TALKS

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Sugar Corp. hopes Bainimarama can negotiate good price

By Tevita Vuibau SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Nov. 22 , 2011) - The Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) will be looking to get Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to meet with sugar refiners Tate and Lyle as he attends the International Sugar Organization meeting in London next week.

Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan said the meetings would negotiate new sugar prices for the next crushing season.

"Since the Prime Minister is the minister responsible for sugar, we thought it would be good to have him there during negotiations and to have him involved," said Mr. Khan.

"I cannot reveal the price that Tate and Lyle buy our sugar at as we have a commercial agreement with them that prevents us from doing so."

Khan said Tate and Lyle had already offered a preliminary price for Fiji sugar but he was not at liberty to reveal the price.

Khan said the International Sugar Organization meetings which the Prime Minister would attend, would give a chance for Fiji to see improvements taking place in the sugar industry.

"The International Sugar Organization meetings will give a chance for Fiji to see the advances being made in other sugar industries around the world and also give us a chance to maybe see some new initiatives which could be implemented in Fiji," Khan said.

Sugar permanent secretary Lieutenant Colonel Manasa Vaniqi confirmed talks regarding the sugar prices for the next season were continuing.

"At this point in time, the FSC is negotiating the new sugar price with Tate and Lyle and FSC brokers in London, Czarnikow, are involved in the talks," said Lt-Col Vaniqi.

Lt-Col Vaniqi will join the Prime Minister and other sugar industry officials to attend the International Sugar Organization talks next week.

Meanwhile the FSC is looking to send a fourth shipment of sugar to Tate and Lyle for refining.

"We have tentatively booked our sugar shipment to the Tate and Lyle refinery for the end of December and this shipment will be approximately 30,000 tons," Khan said.

He said the FSC had managed to produce 150,000 tons of sugar from 1.8 million tons of sugarcane this crushing season.

[PIR editor’s note: Tate and Lyle representatives arrived in Fiji in February 2011 to iron out details for their agreement with the FSC. The following month, the International Monetary Fund recommended to the Fijian government that it divest itself from the FSC as part of a large-scale restructuring plan. The FSC had reported a net loss of nearly US$94.8 million over 2010, but Bainimarama went on record as saying no alternative industry would be a viable replacement in the near future.]

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