India mulling 4 mn tonne sugar exports

New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) Following a call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week to consider sugar exports, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday said a proposal was under consideration to ship four million tonnes on terms, including barter trade.

“We want to export sugar to those countries where there is a requirement. The industry must take initiative in this regard,” Paswan told reporters on the margins of a conference here. “We also want to promote barter. Otherwise, 40 percent import duty will fixed and it will be of no use.”

Chairing a high-level meeting on Saturday, Modi had called for higher ethanol content in petrol and a concerted effort to push exports in a bid to lower the current sugar surplus and protect the interests of farmers to whom factories owe an estimated Rs.15,000 crore in cane arrears.

Besides the arrears to farmers, the meeting came against the backdrop of the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) estimating sugar output for the sugar season 2014-15 (October to September) at 28.3 million tonnes, another 28 million tonnes in the next season, and a carry over of 10 million tonnes.

As a result, supplies have outstripped demand for the fifth straight year. The annual demand is around 25-26 million tonnes.

To address the issues at hand, the government has extended a soft loan of Rs.6,000 crore for the clearance of arrears, raised the import duty on sugar from 15 to 40 percent, increased the export subsidy to Rs.4,000 per tonne and raised the level of ethanol blending in petrol to 10 percent.

The government also allowed the export of additional 2,095 tonnes of raw sugar to the US under the tariff rate quota, under which imports there attract a relatively lower customs duty. Prior to that, 8,424 tonnes of raw sugar had been notified for export to the US.

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