The quota for Laos sugar imports (coded HS 1701) is 50,000 tonnes this year, and the import tariff is 2.5 percent, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The announcement was made via Circular 08, which takes effect from May 27. It went on to state that traders importing sugar from Hoang Anh Attapeu Sugar Cane Co. Ltd in Laos would enjoy an import tax rate of 2.5 percent.

In addition, import procedures, which are checked by customs departments at border gates, would not require permits from the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

However, reports on sugar imports must be submitted monthly to the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the General Department of Customs under the Ministry of Finance.

Sugar imports from Laos will not count towards Vietnam's overall sugar import quota this year as a result of its commitments to the World Trade Organisation. At the beginning of this year, the ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development and of Industry and Trade agreed to set the 2015 sugar import quota at 81,000 tonnes.

The circular was released after the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reported that sugar inventories were estimated at 496,790 tonnes as of mid May, 180,650 tonnes lower than the previous year.

The average sugar prices were reported to increase by 2,000 VND (9.2 US cents) – 2,500 VND (11 US cents) per kilogramme in May over the previous month to around 14,300 VND (66 US cents) to 15,000 VND (69 US cents) per kilogramme.

The domestic sugar industry has been struggling in recent years due to oversupply, plunging prices, smuggled sugar and pressure from neighbouring countries with more competitive prices.

These difficulties highlighted the urgent need for the sugar industry to improve its competitiveness, especially when the tax rate was scheduled to be cut to zero by 2018 as part of the country's commitments to the ASEAN Economic Community.-VNA