- "In the July 22 meeting of the sugar advisory board, I recommended to the government to import at least 300,000 tonnes of sugar for open market intervention to control the price hike,"
- Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday told authorities to plan for sugar imports.
KARACHI/MUMBAI: Pakistan could import around 300,000 tonnes of sugar to tackle a shortage that has lifted local sugar prices by 22% in seven months, industry officials told Reuters, flagging a move that could support global prices and calm the local market.
Islamabad was exporting sugar until earlier this year, but now has a shortage as sugar production has fallen below consumption levels for the 2019/20 marketing year ending Sept. 30.
"In the July 22 meeting of the sugar advisory board, I recommended to the government to import at least 300,000 tonnes of sugar for open market intervention to control the price hike," Javed Kayani, senior vice chairman of Pakistan Sugar Mills Association, told Reuters on Monday.
The government is expected to consider the proposal as a priority at the Economic Coordination Committee's next meeting, Kayani said, without saying when that would be.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday told authorities to plan for sugar imports.
Retail sugar prices in Pakistan have jumped to 90 rupees per kg from 74 rupees per kg in January.
Pakistan produced 4.8 million tonnes of sugar in the current season against local demand of 5.5 million tonnes.
Sugar mills are expected to start crushing from November but until then supplies would remain limited and Islamabad needs to import as early as next month, a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm said on condition of anonymity.
A Singapore-based dealer, who also asked not to be named, said Pakistan would be likely to import sugar from Dubai's Al Khaleej Sugar, which operates the world's largest port-based sugar refinery.
"Al Khaleej and India can supply sugar quickly at lower prices to Pakistan. As Pakistan wont import sugar from India due to ongoing tensions, it would prefer Al Khaleej," the dealer said.
Pakistan's sugar crisis is a political issue.
In May, the government made public a report that showed sugar barons made a windfall profit of 100 billion rupees ($600.24 million) through actions such as fudging production costs to claim subsidies, under-reporting sales and exploiting farmers.