China’s sugar ban to be lifted or eased

There could be a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel for businesses involved in the sugar industry as a Chinese team will be in Myanmar to inspect sugar quality and the mills in a prelude to a resumption of sugar sales to China.

Myanmar Sugar and Sugar Related Products Merchants and Manufacturers’ Association deputy chair U Win Htay said the inspections will be needed to seek a sales quota for sugar to China. The quality of sugar as well as mills and warehouses will be inspected by the Chinese teams.

“We expect the Chinese inspection team to come around October. They’ll make their inspections and buy from the mills that pass their inspection,” U Win Htay said, adding that the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation would accompany the team.

China was the largest buyer of sugar from Myanmar from 2015 until mid-2017 when Beijing banned the import of refined sugar from the country and left stocks piling up in warehouses, a situation that continues to this day.

The Myanmar government has also restricted licenses given out to businesses for re-exports of sugar originally imported from Thailand and India for trade with China. These licenses were originally given out in 2015.

U Win Htay hopes for a loosening of the restrictions for sugar exports to China, as the ban has caused refined sugar prices to drop to K960 a viss, the price it was trading at back in 2009. Sugarcane farmers fear a drop in the price of their produce on the prolong ban despite prices actually rising to K43,000 a tonne, from K32,000 in 2009.

Thailand, which does not rely on refined sugar only for demand but also on ethanol production, and is a less costly place to produce refined sugar, is planning to reduce production. Myanmar sugar millers want the government to approve ethanol production to offset the fall in demand from China.

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation director Daw Yi Yi Mon said recently that there is a need for a sugarcane strategy before any law can be passed.

She noted that stakeholders will try to get a solution for the stocks piling up at a sugar forum next month while a sugar trader suggested that other avenues or markets should be explored rather than relying on the Chinese market.

Source: Myanmar Times

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