Canadian support for the less-developed sugar-producing nations during negotiations of a new International Sugar Agreement has been called for by a delegation to Ottawa representing major church denominations.
The four-man team called upon Canadian government officials to support four proposals which are expected to be put forward by the less-developed countries.
They include higher price levels to increase the purchasing power of sugar exporting countries; a floor price to balance the ceiling price that has been established under the old agreement; adjustment of purchasing quotes from countries to recognize the needs of the most dependent exporters and a standstill provision which will limit Canadian sugar beet producers' share of the domestic market to its present 12 to 14 percent proportions.
Renegotiation of the International Sugar Agreement commences in Geneva in May.
The church delegates represented Project GATT-Fly, a project by Anglican, United, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches, to bring to the attention of the Canadian public issues which will be discussed later this year at the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs talks and to focus on some of the needs which will be presented by many of the poorer nations whose balance of trade depends upon exports of natural resources.
The seven-page brief also raised other issues related to sugar policy. It recommends that Canada cease to extend Commonwealth preference to South Africa and seek to increase trade with developing nations, such as Cuba. South Africa is now the second largest supplier of sugar to Canada and enjoys Commonwealth trade preferences despite its expulsion.
"We intend to continue our efforts to help inform public opinion about the necessity of a trade policy that is more responsive to the needs of less developed countries. The GATT-Fly Project itself is but one aspect of a renewed concern within the Canadian church to concern itself more with well-being of all men in all parts of the world," the brief states.
"Canada, as the second largest importer of raw sugar under the International Sugar Agreement, is in an excellent position to exercise initiative in securing sympathetic consideration to the proposals of developing countries to increase their export earnings, one of the principal objectives of the ISA."
It says that the Australian government, which is the largest exporter of sugar among developed countries has shown signs of a more understanding attitude towards development issues than Canada has.
"In this context we wish to indicate our distress...that Canada led the importing countries in opposing a request from exporters for a higher price level to compensate for dollar devaluation when the request was made last month at a meeting of the International Sugar Organization. Such a position appears to contradict Canada's policy of increasing development assistance to less-developed countries."
Representatives of the GATT-Fly Project who met with officials of the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce were John Dillon of Toronto, Project co-ordinator; Rev. Reginald McQuaid, OHC, Ottawa; Rev. Eoin MacKay, Canadian Council of Churches, Toronto; and Tony Clarke, Canadian Catholic Conference, Ottawa.
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Further information and a copy of the brief may be obtained from: