THE Philippines will export an additional 10,000 MT of sugar to the US under a preferential quota scheme even as the government considers importing up to 100,000 MT to bolster domestic supplies tightened by the extended drought.
Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin said Wednesday that Philippine sugar producers are looking to export an additional 10,000 to 12,000 metric tons of sugar to Washington under the country-specific and first-come, first-served in-quota allocations under the tariff-rate quotas (TRQs).
Manila-based traders are now working with their Thai counterparts to combine shipments of additional sugar from the two countries for export to the United States, the SRA said.
“Interested exporters are now discussing possible co-shipping with Thailand since the volume allotted by the US is now sufficient for a single vessel,” Martin said, adding that the ideal export volume per vessel is around 25,000 to 30,000 MT.
US Agricultural Attaché to the Philippines Jeffrey Albanese said that they expect Manila to meet the additional volume under the TRQs following completion of the regular sugar quota.
“The additional quota was awarded to the Philippines, which is about 10,000 MT more,” Albanese said, expressing confidence that the Asian country will meet the volume required despite the drought.
The Philippines, which is one of the select countries given an annual allocation of sugar exports to the US market at a premium, continues to export sugar to Washington amid reported tightness in supply.
Tariff-rate quotas allow countries to export specified quantities of a product to the United States at a relatively low tariff, but subject all imports of the product above a predetermined threshold to a higher tariff.
Last week, Martin said that they have already complete the shipment of 135,508 MT, filling up the regular US sugar quota under SRA’s export replacement sugar program.
For local traders to benefit from the U.S. exports, they will be allowed to import replacement volume for domestic consumption.
“We are committed to fill up the additional quota from Washington, and we are just waiting for the result of discussion between local traders and Thailand before we proceed,” she added.
Tight domestic supply
The SRA chief, however, admitted that despite premium prices from US buyers, prices of local sugar remained higher.
Earlier, Martin said the country might import up to 100,000 metric tons of sugar to temper speculation amid tightness in supply caused by the prevailing dry spell.
“We are looking at 100,000 MT more or less. We are just waiting for the completion of the sugar imported earlier before we decide on the final figures,” she said.
“We have yet to come up with a new scheme for the additional US sugar quota. But definitely, the 100,000 MT [of additional imports]will not be under replacement program,” she added.
Martin said that they are now closely monitoring production for the current crop year, adding that they expect to come up with a decision soon to ensure healthy buffer stock of the sweetener.
“We have monitored good production in Negros. That’s why we have to reassess our figures. We will come up with the official volume, which is between 50,000 MT and 100,000, within the next two weeks,” Martin said.
As of April 13, sugar output has already reached 2.043 million MT, or 95.73 percent of the 2.134 million MT production estimate for crop year 2015-2016. The country’s sugar production for current crop year is 8 percent lower compared to 2.32 million MT in the previous crop year.
A sugar crop year in the Philippines starts September and ends August.