DTI, SRA in talks over possible sugar imports
MANILA, Philippines– While liberalization is on hold, the federal government is now looking at setting a benchmark cost for local sugar which, if not fulfilled, would permit food processors to import the commodity at any provided time.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) remain in talks about permitting domestic food processors and confectionaries to bring in imported sugar if local price can not satisfy the P1,900 per bag level in the global market.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez stated SRA administrator Hermenegildo Serafica has dedicated that they would make offered lower and competitively priced sugar for food processors.
” We were just talking, but we can formalize that agreement if we had the assurance that they will permit importation for those who need it especially if the local rate can not match the imported cost of around P1,900 per bag,” Lopez informed reporters throughout the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food meeting on Saturday.
” Of course we choose local, however if they can not get sugar at that price then you must permit them[to import] It’s like we have a benchmark, that’s my suggestion to SRA and they concurred in concept,” he said.
Presently, there is no sugar order that enables importation. The last batch of imports in August in 2015 was 250,000 metric lots of either basic grade refined sugar or bottler’s grade improved sugar.
Most current data from SRA revealed refined sugar is presently priced at P2,200 per bag at the wholesale level.
” In fairness to the SRA, it is linking possible providers to our food processors who are trying to find sugar just to remove the traders in between,” Lopez stated.
” The target price that we are talking about is around P1,900 that when you hit that cost, we will buy regional, however if you can’t you have to enable them to import so as for them to be competitive,” he stated.
Serafica has yet to talk about the advancement. Agriculture Secretary William Dar, on the other hand, stated he has yet to get a report relating to the matter.
SRA board member Roland Beltran said he is not knowledgeable about such talk and maintained that DTI might remain in talks with the administrator, however not at the Sugar Board level.
” It is a working concept that we established with SRA, we simply have to ensure that it is being carried out, in other words they are actually granting import allows to those in requirement for food processing,” Lopez stated.
The trade chief stated there has been no discussion on the earlier proposal of regional food mill for an annual import allowance to assist support supply.
PCAFI and its member Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Company are asking the government for a sugar import allowance of an estimated 105,000 MT annually to stabilize their production operations.
Processors are in fact asking for an optimum of 10 percent sugar import allocation out of the nation’s yearly sugar production positioned at 2.1 million MT.
” We have actually not gone over that. What we talked about is the trigger rate and our principle is we prefer regional supply but offer it at this rate. If you can’t then permit them to import,” Lopez stated.
” The regional providers will be obliged to cost that competitive rate of P1,900, so it is a win-win, you have to balance it with the users,” he added.
Data revealed that regional raw-sugar production went down 27 percent to 311,617 MT as of the first week of December.
The Philippines has actually assigned bulk of its target production for the crop year to the domestic market amidst an anticipated fairly flat output.
For the new crop year which started in September 2019 and will end in August this year, the Philippines anticipates to produce 2.096 million MT of sugar.
This is a meager 1.1 percent boost from last crop year’s 2.072 million MT production.
The lower production will likely prompt more sugar imports this crop year as the country needs to maintain at least 2.2 million MT in supply to meet regional need.