MARD proposes sugar import quota hinh anh 1This year, Vietnam has to import 81,000 tonnes of sugar following its commitment made to the WTO (Photo: thoibaotaichinhvietnam)

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has proposed to the Ministry of Industry and Trade that while allocating sugar import quotas, priority should be accorded to factories which imported raw sugar for refining amid an anticipated excess supply.

The import quota partition assigned to local sugar firms are set to begin this month since the sugarcane harvest season has ended.

This year, Vietnam has to import 81,000 tonnes of sugar following its commitment made to the World Trade Organisation, plus a 50,000 tonne import commitment to Laos.

Because Vietnam can import raw sugar and refined sugar to fulfil the quotas, MARD said the import of raw sugar for refining would lead to creation of jobs locally besides helping struggling domestic refineries to become viable, and operate at full capacity.

The agriculture ministry said raw sugar import for refining would also help monitor and control sugar supply and therefore lead to stabilisation of domestic sugar prices.

Prioritising raw sugar and refinery production is also possible now as domestic refineries are able to meet the requirements, both in terms of quality and quantity, of factories that consume sugar, the ministry said.

As of mid-June, all 41 domestic sugar plants had ceased production, recording a total output of nearly 1.417 million tonnes, a yearly drop of 173,490 tonnes.

Combined with the import quotas and a stockpile of 200,000 tonnes from the previous crop, the total sugar supply in the domestic market this year was estimated to be 1.751 million tonnes while domestic demand was estimated at 1.5 million tonnes, leaving with an excess supply of 251,000 tonnes.

In the first half of this year, sugar sales reached more than 1.025 million tonnes, mostly for domestic consumption.

The MARD also urged for a clamp down on rampant sugar smuggling, which continues unabated in provinces bordering Laos and Cambodia.

The domestic sugar industry has been in difficulty during recent years due to massive inventories, plunging prices and the headache of smuggling, urging the industry to enhance competitiveness to survive and develop the sector amid rapid integration.-VNA