‘Pakistan unlikely to import sugar this year’


ISLAMABAD – Pakistan is unlikely to import sugar this year because the country will have enough stocks to meet domestic requirements, Food Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal has said. Pakistan imposes no import duty on white sugar and the government in September waived a 25 percent duty on raw sugar to encourage the private sector to import the sweetener after fears August floods would reduce the 2010/11 crop to 3.2 million tonnes.
But Gondal said that initial estimates suggest the crop would produce about 3.5 million tonnes of refined sugar and that, together with the previous stocks of 0.9 million tonnes, should be enough to meet the country’s needs. “We will be self-sufficient in sugar and I am very confident that we will not need to import sugar this year,” Gondal told reporters. Pakistanis consume about 4.2 million tonnes sugar a year.
Pakistan bought about 1.2 million tonnes of sugar last year after production fell to nearly 3.1 million tonnes from the 2009/10 crop, when many farmers switched to more profitable crops. ICE March raw sugar soared four percent to end at 35.31 cents per pound on Wednesday, the strongest settlement since November 1980, due to a cyclone that hit a key growing area in Australia, the world’s third largest sugar exporter.
However the supply concern in futures markets had yet to filter through the physical market, with premiums for Thai sugar hovering at their lowest level in more than a month at 90 points over New York’s March contract.