The government on Wednesday said India imported just 1,908 tonnes of sugar from Pakistan this fiscal, rejecting the opposition’s charges that the neighbouring country is dumping massive volumes of the sweetener here. In value term, imports from Pakistan were to the tune of $0.657 million, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said. However, it’s not yet clear how much of sugar came via open general licence and how much through an advance authorisation scheme (AAS). Under the AAS, sugar is imported at zero duty for re-exports after value addition. However, imports under the OGL are taxed at 100%.
The government doesn’t resort to country-specific ban on supplies, as it would violate World Trade Organisation rules. India recently doubled an import duty on sugar to 100% to contain inflows of sugar from Pakistan that is offering massive export subsidies to cut a huge inventory. “Import from Pakistan has been very minuscule as compared to total production in the country and exports from India,” the DGFT said.
Sugar production in India, the world’s second-largest producer, is estimated at record 31.9 million tonnes in the current marketing year through September, compared with 20.3 million tonnes in the previous year. The annual domestic demand is around 25 million tonnes. India, in fact, exported 1.75 million tonnes of sugar in 2017-18 fiscal and 2.4 lakh tonnes so far this financial year.
Sugar imports from Pakistan stirred a political storm in Maharashtra earlier this week, with the Congress party and the NCP having attacked the Union government, claiming that the latter’s policy of allowing the import of sugar from neighbouring Pakistan was driving down prices in the local market. Already, to reduce a glut in the domestic market, the government has asked mills to export 2 million tonnes of sugar.