State-run Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said Tuesday that it is allowing local sugar producers and traders to import an additional 100,000 metric tons of sugar to stabilize prices as supply tightens due to El Niño.
The decision came after some industrial consumers of sugar warned that shortage of sugar at competitive price will make them shift to other sweeteners or bring in finished products that contain sugar to meet their needs.
Domestic sugar prices, SRA confirmed, have been high for most part of the current cropping year that began Sept 2015. This, it said, is despite sugar imports as part of the earlier replacing program, carry-over sugar stocks from the previous crop year and a decline in sugar withdrawals.
The country has previously allowed sugar imports under the replacement program for controlling speculation when droughts hit major sugarcane growing provinces, but allowing only those participating in the replacement program to replace exports with imports. Traders can import 1.25 metric tons of sugar for every one million of exports to the US.
However, under the revised replacement program, sugar producers and traders who earlier exported to the US will be allowed to increase imports at the rate of 1.998 metric tons for even one metric tons of export. The imports shall be in raw form or raw basis (refined sugar).
The Philippines is one of the select countries given an annual allocation of sugar export to the US market at a premium. For this crop year, the country has a regular US sugar quota of 135,508 MT and 19,000 MT as additional quota allocation.
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 pre-determined threshold to a higher tariff.
Sugar production in the country has reached 2.21 million MT as of last week, thus exceeding the 2.134 million MT production estimate for the current crop year, said SRA’s policy and planning manager, Rosemarie Gumera. However, the output is lower than previous crop year’s 2.32 million MT. The expectation now, according Gumera, is that the sugar sector will regain strength in the coming crop year because of better weather conditions and irrigation.
With increased output in the harvest season starting next September, Gumera said that the industry is ready to fulfill new orders from the US under the regular US sugar quota.
The Philippines received the third biggest share (142,160 metric tons raw value) under the country-specific US quota allocation, while Brazil and Dominican Republic receoved 152,691 MTRV and 185,335 MTRV, respectively.
The US sugar quota allocations are based on each country’s historical shipments to the United States.