THE GOVERNMENT has allowed traders to import up to 200,000 metric tons (MT) of raw and refined sugar within the current crop year to help stabilize domestic sugar prices.
The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) issued Sugar Order No. 10 on Monday, opening the importation of up to 100,000 MT of bottler’s grade reined sugar; 50,000 MT of standard-grade refined sugar; and 50,000 MT of raw sugar.
Eligible importers should be registered at the SRA as an international sugar trader “in good standing,” it said.
The application period for an SRA clearance for the release of imported sugar starts June 18 and ends Aug. 31.
The Departments of Agriculture and Trade and Industry have recommended sugar imports as world prices for sugar are lower than domestic prices.
“The departments agreed that SRA should adopt additional and responsive measures to ensure domestic supply and stabilize sugar prices,” according to the order, which was sent to reporters yesterday.
It noted that prices have “gradually and continuously” increased to P1,962.66 per 50-kilogram bag (LKg) from the P1,300 per LKg at the start of the 2017 to 2018 crop year.
Demand for both raw and refined sugar has significantly increased this crop year with raw sugar withdrawals from producer inventories increasing by 2.58% and refined sugar withdrawals jumping by 21.30% from last year’s volumes, according to the SRA.
This brought the current raw sugar inventory to 605,293 MT, down 38.87% from a year earlier and that for refined sugar to 288,363.30 MT, down 33.43%.
Sugarcane output in the 2017-2018 crop year is expected to reach 2.27 million MT, 9.2% lower than in the previous crop year at 2.5 million MT.
The last time the country imported sugar was during the crop year 2015 to 2016 when the effects of a prolonged severe El Niño dampened sugarcane production while the country struggled to fulfill its export commitments to the United States. — Janina C. Lim