India today made its first pitch to export about 1.5 million tonnes of Indian sugar to China in a bid to reduce surplus stocks, weeks after an informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan. About 50 officials of the 25 Chinese sugar companies attended a close door interaction with top officials of the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) to discuss the possibility to import about one million or 1.5 million tonnes of Indian sugar, which could fetch about USD 350 million. India has 7 million tonnes of surplus sugar this year and with forecast of good rains the surplus stocks were expected to pileup further next year, Gaurav Goel, President of ISMA, told the media after his delegation’s talks with Chinese officials.
While most of the sugar produced in India is consumed at home, India so far has restricted sugar exports to East Africa and Sri Lanka. With the surplus stocks, India is now looking to export to China. China imports about 4.5 million tonnes of surplus stocks mostly from Brazil, Thailand and Cuba, Abinash Verma MD, CEO of Indian Sugar Exim Corporation said. This is the first-time India is making a strong bid to export to China though India has exported about two lakh tonnes in 2007, he said. Besides East Africa and Sri Lanka, India is making a strong pitch for export of sugar to China and Bangladesh to cut losses due to surplus sugar stocks, he said. Today’s meeting took place following the informal summit during which Prime Minister Modi had urged Xi to import Indian sugar, rice and pharmaceuticals, official sources here said.
Modi was expected to have follow up discussions during his visit to Chinese city Qingdao to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit to be held on June 9 and 10, Verma said. Today’s meeting was organised by the Indian Embassy here. Speaking at the meeting, Counsellor Economic of Indian Embassy, Prashant Lokhande elaborated on the growing economic engagement between India and China and assured Chinese firms that India would emerge as a major sugar trading partner for China with consistent policies and quality product. ISMA officials said India hopes to export its sugars to China under the 50 per cent tariff category, though details are yet to be worked out. China charges 80 per cent tariffs on sugar imports. The response from the Chinese officials for India’s offer of exports is extremely positive, Goel said.
There were also inquiries whether the Indian firms could supply and match the quality, he said, adding that an invitation has been extended for the Chinese officials to visit Indian mills which have the most modern facilities. Those who attended the meeting included officials from China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, (CCPIT), China Sugar Association (CSA) and COFCO. The ISMA officials also called on Indian Ambassador, Gautam Bambawale, who informed them that exports of sugar was discussed during Modi-Xi meeting. He offered the embassy’s full support to push Indian sugar exports to China. Earlier, India has made strong bid to export Soybean and rice to China to address the trade imbalance between the two countries which now amounted to USD 51 billion in over USD 80 billion trade last year.