SRA sets sugar imports to meet US commitment

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The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) will allow producers and traders to import as much as 142,000 metric tons of the commodity to replace the volume of export committed to the United States.

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In a telephone interview, SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin said the agency would be issuing an administrative order to meet the “A” sugar or US quota and replace “B” sugar for domestic consumption through importation.

“It is to the national interest that the Philippines export to the US under its sugar quota allocation while ensuring sufficient supply for the domestic market,” Martin said.

To recall, Manila halted sugar exports for the US and world markets for crop year 2015-2016 as the El Niño phenomenon impacts on the agriculture sector including sugarcane output.

Sugar production is expected to reach 2.25 to 2.35 million metric tons (MT) for current crop year. Local consumption was pegged at 2.2 million MT. The Philippine crop year is from September to August.

Due to tight supply, the SRA has decided to allocate 100 percent of sugar production for the current crop year to the domestic market because of the growing demand.

At the same time, the SRA is working on how to meet its export commitments to Washington,

The SRA on Thursday said it would now allow up to of 142,000 MT of B sugar to be exported to the US. “The new sugar order will take effect first week of January,” Martin said.

The exports of “B” sugar to the US is open and voluntary on the part of planters, associations, cooperatives, mills, refineries, industrial users, and exporters provided that they are duly registered with the SRA as an international trader for the current crop year.

“Those who exported to the US using B sugar may replace the same with raw or refined sugar from the world market, keeping in mind the volume needed to balance supply and demand, and shall be issued clearance by SRA for release of their replacement sugar,” she said.

The Philippines is one of the preferred countries with an annual allocation of sugar export to the US market at a premium.

For this crop year, Manila has a regular US sugar quota of 142,000 MT. Washington allowed the Philippines to retain its regular quota despite being able to fill only half or 70,000 MT of the US sugar quota in the previous crop year.

Tariff-rate quotas allow countries to export specified quantities of a product to the United States at a relatively low tariff, but all other imports of are levied a higher tariff.

Martin said that the latest crop estimate as of October this year showed that pro duction may be lower than the earlier estimates of 2.27 million MT.

The shortfall is coming mostly from major sugarcane plantations in the Visayas.

The prolonged dry spell toward the end of the current crop year also impacted on crops.

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