The Chilean government is to ask the World Trade Organization (WTO) to approve the new sugar tariff proposals it presented to its suppliers at an informal meeting last week. Chile provoked an angry response from sugar producing countries with its announcement that it intends to raise its maximum tariff on sugar imports from 31.5% to 98%.

Chile will also prioritise some importers by introducing a tariff-free quota of 33,900 tons per year for its three main suppliers. The quota will be divided between Argentina (15,000 tons per year), Guatemala (12,000 tons) and Brazil (6,900 tons). The proportions relate to each country's current share of the Chilean sugar market.

Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador have already asked the WTO to force Chile to reduce the current maximum tariff of 31.5%, so they were disappointed that tariffs will instead be raised.  Brazil and Argentina are not party to the WTO case against Chile, although both are pursuing compensation claims with Chilean authorities.

By Steve Anderson, just-food.com correspondent in Chile