A worker operates a packaging machine at a KCP Vietnam Industries Limited sugar factory, an Indian-owned company in Phu Yen province (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – At the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s first-ever auction on sugar import quotas on September 7, eleven firms won bids.

Vietnam must import 85,000 tonnes of sugar this year, following its commitment to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The commitment includes 40,000 tonnes of raw sugar and 45,000 tonnes of refined sugar.

The first-time public auction was created to ensure transparency, the ministry said.

According to Phan Thi Dieu Ha, Deputy Director of the ministry’s Import-Export Department, there were 22 valid bids out of 25 participants.

Three companies won bids for import quotas of raw sugar, namely Bien Hoa Sugar Joint Stock Company, Thanh Thanh Cong Tay Ninh Sugar and Sugarcane Company and Khanh Hoa Sugar Company, the three firms securing a total import quota of 39,998 tones.

Eight winners for import quotas of refined sugar included URC Vietnam, Puratos Grandplace Vietnam, Perfetti Van Melle, Coca Cola Vietnam, Nestle Vietnam, Vinamilk, Sanofi Synthelabo Vietnam, and a member of Trung Nguyen Group.

For sugar within quotas, tariffs were set at 5 percent on goods imported from ASEAN countries. From other countries, the tariffs were 25 percent on raw sugar and 40 percent on refined sugar.

For sugar outside quotas, tariffs were placed at 80 percent and 85 percent on raw and refined sugar, respectively.

Sugar prices have been on an upward trend since the year’s beginning, up between 20-30 percent over the same period last year, due to drops in output of 2015-16 crop caused by drought and salt invasion, according to the ministry.

Previously, the Ministry of Industry and Trade proposed to import an additional 200,000 tones of sugar and received the Government’s approval for an additional import quota of 100,000 tonnes, a move that augments the WTO’s 85,000 tonne quota and Hoang Anh Gia Lai’s 30,000 tonnes from Laos.

Sugar stockpiles were estimated to surpass 400,000 tonnes in July, according to Vietnam Sugar and Sugar Association, which estimated that sugar imports and smuggled sugar might push supply surplus to 200,000 tonnes this year.

Vu Thi Huyen Duc, the association’s deputy president said that sugar output for the coming 2016-17 crop was expected at 1.4 million tonnes, 50 percent of which was refined sugar.-VNA