Tate & Lyle Sugars is seeking damages from the European Commission over tariffs

Tate & Lyle Sugars is seeking damages from the European Commission over tariffs

Tate & Lyle Sugars (TLS) is taking the European Commission to court over tariffs on sugar imports.

The company, formed last year after US firm American Sugar Refining acquired Tate & Lyle plc's sugar operations, is seeking EUR35m (US$47m) that it claims it lost due to tariffs on sugar imports. The tariffs, Tate & Lyle Sugars claims, are unfairly stifling competition.

Tate & Lyle Sugars argues the European Commission's treatment of the market for sugar is harming sugar refined from cane, which is exported from abroad, and favouring rival beet producers, most of whom are domestic. Beet makes up 80% of the European sugar supply and cane 20%

A spokesperson from Tate & Lyle Sugars said that the tariff is "prohibitively high" and favours domestic producers.

He said: "The case boils down to the fact that there's a discrepancy between domestic suppliers, which don't have to pay tariffs, and refiners like Tate & Lyle that do."

On Wednesday (5 October), Tate & Lyle Sugars chief executive Ian Bacon met representatives of UK Business Secretary Vince Cable to discuss the lawsuit. A spokesperson for Mr Cable said the government was "listening seriously".

"We were there to give them a full briefing and utilise British government support for our campaign for a level playing field", the spokesperson said.

He added the lawsuit will also help shoppers and food processors, as companies that import cane sugar are forced to pass the cost on to consumers.

Officials at the European Commission could not be reached for immediate comment. However, it told The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday: "The Commission maintains the regulations represent a balanced policy towards the sugar market."