British Sugar has launched a lawsuit against the government’s decision to allow 260,000 tonnes of raw cane sugar in the UK duty free.
The zero-rated Autonomous Tariff Rate Quota (ATQ) came into effect on January 1 – after the end of the Brexit transition period.
The government insists that Canadian sugar beet growers and the sugar beet refining industry should not be adversely affected by QTA.
But it infuriated British Sugar and UK sugar beet growers, who claim they will be unfairly disadvantaged by the decision.
British Sugar chief executive Paul Kenward said the processor had not taken the step of lightly challenging the government’s decision.
“This puts the UK beet sugar industry, including more than 2,500 farmers, at a distinct competitive disadvantage, while harming the interests of farmers in developing countries.”
The US company Tate and Lyle is the only company importing and refining raw cane sugar in the UK.
Mr Kenward said it was wrong to choose only raw cane sugar for special treatment.
“We believe the government is selectively and unfairly benefiting this US company to the tune of at least £ 12million this year.”
American Sugar Refining – also known as ASR Group – is the parent company of Tate and Lyle, which processes imported raw cane sugar at its factory in Silvertown, London.
The Thames Refinery is one of the largest sugar refineries in the world, with a capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per year.
Tate and Lyle says its UK refining and processing plant employs 850 people.