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India, Pak in new dispute over sugar exports

India, Pak in new dispute over sugar exports
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First Published: Thu, Aug 30 2007. 11 51 AM IST
Updated: Thu, Aug 30 2007. 11 51 AM IST
Nusa Dua, Indonesia: The first sugar exports by India to Pakistan in over two years have been disrupted by what Indian industry officials say is arbitrary intervention by officials, designed to protect Pakistani millers from import competition.
Customs officials at Lahore in Pakistan have refused entry to a trainload of 2,400 tonnes of white sugar from India claiming it was contaminated, S.L. Jain, spokesman for the Indian delegation at the Asia International Sugar Conference being held in Bali, said.
“There are no health problems. They can’t use all these alibis. The quality is fine,” he told reporters late on Wednesday, 29 August.
The dispute comes as India has become a large-scale bulk exporter because of its large crops and sizeable surplus and as the Pakistani government attempts to keep domestic sugar prices down.
Three more cargoes of Indian sugar, each of 2,400 tonnes, are now on their way to Lahore, Indian traders at the sugar conference said on Thursday.
The Pakistan government and Pakistani sugar mills are locked in a dispute over what the government sees as high prices charged by millers.
Pakistani traders have said the Pakistan government will import sugar if mills do not start crushing a bumper cane crop by October.
Indian traders say exports to Pakistan could be as much as 200,000 tonnes.
Indian delegates at the Asia sugar conference told Reuters on Thursday that customs officials had detained the cargo at the behest of the president of Punjab Province, who was in turn acting on behalf of the Pakistani sugar mills.
The mills are calling on the Pakistani government to ban the import of Indian sugar given that Pakistan has sugar in abundance, a trader said.
“The Pakistan millers are saying that it is contaminated — it’s all humbug,” the trader said, asking not to be identified.
Pakistan has sugar stocks which will last until November.
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First Published: Thu, Aug 30 2007. 11 51 AM IST