Industry body ISMA today asked the government to seek preferential duty structure from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for Indian sugar, which is expected to be in surplus on account of higher output estimates for the 2018-19 marketing year. While Bangladesh levys import duty of $150 per tonne on sugar, Sri Lanka imposes $100. The two neighbours import about 25-30 lakh tonnes of sweetener annually, ISMA said. “India’s sugar production may exceed in 2018-19 marketing year than 251 lakh tonnes estimated for the current year. So we may have surplus sugar for exports in 2018-19,” Indian Sugar Mills Association Director General Abinash Verma said at ISMA’s 83rd annual general meeting. “Therefore, we are requesting the government to seek preferential import duty from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for Indian sugar,” he said. Sugar marketing year runs from October to September.
ISMA President Saritha Reddy said preferential tariff treatment for Indian sugar is needed as global prices may not be viable for such exports, especially when domestic sugarcane prices are highest in the world. “There are many countries which offer preferential import duty to the neighbouring countries under regional cooperation like Indonesia offers to Thailand and Australia. Such preferential trade tariffs should be offered for sugar imports by Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to India,” she said.
Urging the government to take timely action on this issue, Reddy said, “Efforts should be started from now itself, so that these markets are available for Indian sugar exporters at concessional import duties from the beginning of the next year, when we would like to export sugar.” Exports to neighbouring nations is possible as India is very close to large sugar deficit countries having good business and trade relations. India has a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) and SAARC Free Trade Agreements (SAFTA) with both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.