Why export, then import sugar? gov’t should explain: Sugar Council 

Negros sugar farm workers: How will the export and import of sugar affect them?*Nic Ledesma photo  

The Sugar Council is questioning why the Philippine government is exporting sugar to the United States and at the same time plans to import sugar.

“Why export 24,700 MT raw – which we are short of – and replace it with 61,750 MT refined (at a 1:2.5 ratio) – of which we have too much?“ the Sugar Council asked in press statement issued on Thursday, July 11.

The Department of Agriculture and the Sugar Regulatory Administration should explain the situation to the common farmer who is puzzled and understandably worried about mill gate prices when sugarcane harvest begins later this year, the Sugar  

Council said. 

The Sugar Council is a coalition of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations Inc., National Federation of Sugarcane Planters Inc. and Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers Inc. 

It said on July 4 they received communication from SRA Administrator Pablo Azcona on a proposed sugar order titled “Export of Raw Sugar in Fulfillment of the U.S. Sugar Quota for the Year 2024 to Avail of Allocation for Future Import Program”. 

The federations were asked to comment on the proposed sugar order by July 8, which the Sugar Council said it complied with.  

The Sugar Council in its letter to Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr., coursed through Azcona, raised the mounting confusion of farmers on why the country is exporting raw sugar to the U.S. when it is also planning to import.

The council sought clarification on the matter, it said. 

However, before they could get a response from the DA and the SRA a report in a national newspaper on July 10 stated “Philippines to export 24,700MT raw sugar to US soon”, the Sugar Council said.  

Farmers continue to be puzzled why there is a need to import even as an export sugar order is being prepared, the Sugar Council said.  

Azcona said on Thursday that the Sugar   Council in its July 8 letter to Laurel “did not clearly say that they don’t want to export, however, they want to do it through media”. 

He said in August last year they wrote the United States Department of Agriculture stating that based on their estimates the  Philippines was not going  to export. 

In November they saw the increase in production and wrote the USDA again if it was possible for them to give the Philippines a sugar quota allocation, Azcona said. 

“In April this year they informed us that they were willing to give the Philippines a 25,000MT quota”, he said. 

The importation is still a plan because they might not have ports for the exportation, Azcona said. 

“The reaction of the Sugar Council is very premature, they are crying wolf when there is no wolf yet,” Azcona said.* 

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