THE Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) may import 100,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar to temper speculation regarding supply and 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,” SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin told The Manila Times.
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.
As of April 13, sugar output totaled 2.043 million MT, or 95.73 percent of the 2.134 million MT output estimated 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 runs from September to August.
The SRA chief said that the additional sugar imports will help maintain a healthy buffer stock as exporters and traders attempt to fulfill Manila’s commitment to Washington under the tariff quota scheme.
The Philippines is one of the select countries given an annual allocation of sugar export to the US market. This crop year, Manila has a US sugar quota of 135,508 MT.
Tariff-rate quotas allow countries to export specified quantities to the United States at a relatively low tariff.
To date, the Philippines has shipped 135,508 MT to Washington, filling up the regular quota under SRA’s export replacement sugar.
“To date, a total of 108,000 MT of the replacement imported sugar has already arrived.
The balance of the replacement sugar, which is about 60,000 MT, is expected to be completed by May,” Martin said.
In a related development, the sugar industry expects to end the milling season by May, rather than the usual June-July schedule as most of the millers intend to shut down earlier due to the El Niño.
At present, some 20 mills remain operational, half of which will close by the end of April.