Government allows 250,000 MT sugar imports

August 3, 2019
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) |

MANILA, Philippines — Local processors scored victory anew after the government allowed the importation of 250,000 metric tons of sugar, the second time for the current crop year, amid tight supply.

In its latest order, the Sugar Regulatory Administration reiterated the need for timely government intervention through importation to maintain a balanced supply and demand and prevent unreasonable spike in prices.

SRA board member for the planters side Emilio Yulo said the Philippines would only end up with a production of 2.072 million metric tons, lower than last year’s volume.

“Latest SRA figures would show an apparent tightness in the supply of refined sugar and so the need for a program to address such situation. We can not afford a situation where tightness in supply would drive retail prices up and open the industry to liberalization,” Yulo told The STAR.

Local manufacturers and processors have been calling for the importation of sugar several months ago amid high prices of the commodity.

“We need to act and perform preemptive measures so that prices of sugar will not spike to unreasonable level that could otherwise trigger inflation,” SRA board member for the millers side Roland Beltran told The STAR.

“We have received letters requesting allocation of refined sugar from Coca-Cola, Pepsi, URC (Universal Robina Corp.), among others,” he said.

The 250,000 MT, either standard grade or bottlers’ grade refined sugar, will be for industrial users at 100,000 MT and the remaining 150,000 MT will be for consumers, end-users and sugar producers.

The order was only signed by Beltran, Yulo and Agriculture undersecretary Roldan Gorgonio who is alternate ex-officio chairperson.

Beltran explained that the administrator did not sign the order because he was insisting that his own draft be adopted but the sugar board did not vote on it.

“His prepared draft calls for all bottlers’ grade refined sugar and exclusively for industrial users at 200,000 MT. In short, his draft was in violation of the equal protection clause. The sugar board cannot accede to it,” Beltran said.

Meanwhile, the second import program is open and voluntary to natural or juridical persons who are industrial users, consumers, end-users and sugar producers provided they are SRA-registered international sugar traders.

Every eligible importer may apply for a maximum of 12,500 MT for consumers and end-users and a maximum of 15,000 MT for industrial users.

SRA shall require up to 50 percent of the total volume of importation or up to 50 percent per approved allocation to arrive in the country not later than Sept. 30 and the remaining volume not later than Oct. 31.

The SRA board will issue clearance for release to eligible sugar traders upon completion of reclassification certificates, application letter, bill of lading, commercial invoice, packing list, certificate of analysis from the country of origin, and proof of payment of bond and SRA fees.

SRA warned that an eligible importer who fails to bring in his allocated volume would have its registration revoked or suspended.

According to SRA, sugar imported without SRA clearance and appropriate classification will not be released from the Bureau of Customs and may be imposed with forfeiture of bond, suspension and non-renewal of registration as sugar trader and case of violation of the Agricultural Anti-Smuggling Act.