New Delhi: India has decided to allow one million tonnes of white sugar exports, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said on Tuesday, double the initial expectations from the world’s second-biggest producer and sending global prices lower.

Expanding limit: Anand Sharma. Photo: Reuters

The world’s biggest consumer of sugar is forecast to produce as much as four million tonnes more than it needs in the 12 months from 1 October, but the government has been watching domestic prices as inflation spirals to double digits.

“Right now it is premature to discuss the second tranche of exports. The season has just started and the government has already allowed permitted one million tonnes instead of half a million tonnes expected," said Prasoon Mathur, senior analyst, Religare Commodities, a New Delhi-based brokerage.

“Volumes are pretty low so it didn’t take much to push it and since the news has come out there hasn’t been a great deal of volume. It’s just hit some sell stops in New York," said a London-based broker.

India’s decision to allow the exports under open general licence (OGL) comes as global markets are likely to see ample supplies, according to industry expert Jonathan Kingsman, who is expecting up to 8 million tonnes surplus in the next 12 months.

Domestic prices have risen recently on hopes for exports and a falling rupee, which touched a record low on Tuesday, has made overseas sales even more attractive.

“This is a very positive development for the market. Tomorrow sugar futures will open significantly higher. Spot prices will also harden tracking futures," said Ashok Jain, president of the Bombay Sugar Merchants Association.

The December sugar contract on India’s National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange ended 0.2% higher at 2,946 rupees per 100 kg.

In 2010/11, India exported 2.6 million tonnes of sugar, including unrestricted overseas shipments of 1.5 million tonnes, popularly termed as sales under OGL.

Exporters from India, the top producer after Brazil, also compete with Thailand where crushing has begun after minor delays caused by flooding.