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imageDUBAI: Mediterranean refineries are winning business to ship white sugar to Syria, Jamal Al Ghurair, managing director of the Al Khaleej Dubai sugar refinery, said on Sunday.

"We can sell sugar to Syria, but it is more competitive from the Med refiners to bring sugar to the Syrian market than from Dubai," Al Ghurair told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the Feb. 8-11 Platts Kingsman sugar conference.

Ghurair said the main refineries in Syria were shut as no raw sugar imports to the country were taking place.

"If they're not importing raw sugar there's no business," he said. He said bagged white sugar was being shipped to Tartous port, and was entering Syria overland from Turkey.

Ghurair said the Dubai refinery was currently sourcing raw sugar from traditional origin Brazil and was not buying supplies from India, because Brazil was more competitive.

But he said that if Indian authorities approve a raw sugar production incentives package soon, as is widely expected in the market, Brazilian producers may have to discount prices to be competitive.

Ghurair said the Dubai refinery was not doing business with Iran involving Indian raw sugar supplies.

He said he had not heard of any specific cases of planned additional refining capacity around the world being mothballed despite reports of substantial new capacity expected to come online in the next few years.

He said it would be difficult for new refining capacity to start up at a time when white sugar premiums were subdued due to oversupply, as operating costs were very high.

Ghurair said he expected white sugar premiums, a measure of refining profitability, to be roughly $75-$85 per tonne until the end of 2014.

The spot white sugar premium traded last week at $87 per tonne. Ghurair said a recent rally in sugar prices, driven by concerns over hot, dry weather in Brazil and uncertainty over the Indian export outlook, was overdone and that he expected prices to drift lower in the near term due to ample supplies.

Copyright Reuters, 2014

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