The Vietnam Sugar and Sugarcane Association has asked the Government to strengthen measures to prevent sugar smuggling and allow the export of locally produced product.

Nguyen Hai, the association's general secretary, said sugar output had reached 1.53 million tonnes in the 2012-13 crop.

With 178,000 tonnes in stock since the beginning crop and 70,000 tonnes imported under Vietnam's World Trade Organisation commitments, the country has a total supply of 1.78 million tonnes.

However, he said, locally produced sugar cannot compete with the prices of smuggled one.

Speaking at a recent conference in Ho Chi Minh City, Nguyen Hai said a large volume of sugar smuggled in the country via the southwest border in An Giang Province, which has put even more pressure on the industry.

Although domestic sugar producers have slashed prices, they are still high compared to smuggled sugar.
The association has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) to seek approval for export of 300,000 tonnes of sugar via border trade.

The ministry has allowed enterprises to export 200,000 tonnes of sugar but only for residual sugar, not refined sugar, because of a possible imbalance of supply of locally refined sugar.

Nguyen Thanh Long, the association's chairman, proposed that the Government strictly inspect the temporary import and re-export of sugar and adopt more effective measures to prevent sugar from being smuggled in the country.

In the long term, he said the Government should develop policies for the sugar industry with consistent regulations on import and export to support and protect local farmers and the sugar industry.

He also urged local producers to focus more on reducing production costs to raise their competitiveness.-VNA