Indian sugar mills want limits imposed if government imports

Indian Sugar Mills Association says if the govt ‘wants to import for their own comfort, not more than 400,000 to 500,000 tonnes of sugar should be allowed to be imported’


ISMA this week cut its estimate for this season’s sugar production 4.7% to 20.3 million tonnes as a cane shortfall prompted mills in Maharashtra and Karnataka to close earlier than usual. Photo: Bloomberg
ISMA this week cut its estimate for this season’s sugar production 4.7% to 20.3 million tonnes as a cane shortfall prompted mills in Maharashtra and Karnataka to close earlier than usual. Photo: Bloomberg

New Delhi/London: Indian sugar mills have recommended the government limit the volume of imports if it decides to purchase sweetener from overseas.

Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said if the government “wants to import for their own comfort, not more than 400,000 to 500,000 tonnes of sugar should be allowed to be imported” and priority should be given to domestic mills in the country’s west and south to help utilize their capacity better, ISMA spokesman Sanjay Banerjee, said by phone. “ISMA has submitted that there is enough sugar and sugar imports are not required.”

ISMA this week cut its estimate for this season’s sugar production 4.7% to 20.3 million tonnes as a cane shortfall prompted mills in Maharashtra and Karnataka to close earlier than usual. That would be the lowest since 2009-10 and compares with the government’s estimate of 22.5 million tonnes. The country has maintained an import duty of 40% even as the outlook for shrinking supply boosted domestic prices about 6% since the start of December.

ISMA confirmed the contents of a 23 February letter to the food ministry obtained by Bloomberg that reiterated there’s no need to import sugar and recommending a limit on any purchases if they were to occur. The food ministry didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Unrestricted and uncontrolled imports will burden the sugar industry and farmers in the medium and long term, the South Indian Sugar Mills Associations said in a 6 March presentation to the food ministry, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg. If required, imports shouldn’t exceed 400,000 tonnes to 500,000 tonnes and priority should be given to mills in the country’s south and west, it said. Two phone calls to the South Indian Sugar Mills Associations weren’t answered.

India imported 4.08 million tonnes of sugar in 2009-10 and exported a combined 5.6 million tonnes in 2010-11 and 2011-12, according to ISMA data. Imports totaled 774,000 tonnes even as production exceeded demand in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and exports were 1.6 million tonnes in 2015-16, the data show. Bloomberg

More From Livemint