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India eyes Chinese sugar sector, plans to export 1.5 million tonnes

India hopes to export sugar to China under the 50% tariff category. This will make the price competitive for the Chinese market.

business Updated: Jun 01, 2018 20:14 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
sugar sector,Chinese sugar sector,Narendra Modi
Sugar production is likely to touch a record high of 30 million tonnes in India, the world’s top consumer(HT FIle Photo)

India on Friday made a pitch to export 1.5 million tons of raw sugar worth more than $350 million to China, a proposal that officials said was first discussed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping during their informal summit at Wuhan in April.

Representatives from 25 Chinese sugar companies held talks on the issue with a delegation from the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) in Beijing.

India’s surplus production of 7 million tons of sugar this year and the possibility of more next year prompted the move, ISMA president Gaurav Goel said after the meeting.

“India has a surplus of 7 million tons this year and the next year, it will almost be the same. So India has to find new markets for exports. Earlier, we exported to Africa and the Middle East, but China has been the market India has never tapped,” Goel said.

India is looking at exporting sugar to China - which imports it from Brazil, Thailand, Australia and Cuba - and Bangladesh.

“China is the largest importer of sugar in the world and that’s why we are here to see if India and China can now become trade partners for sugar,” Goel said. “And this is the first time we all are here and we believe China can buy a large amount of sugar from India.

“China imports approximately 4 million tons to 5 million tons. India’s export of sugar to China has been very small. In 2007, India’s sugar exports to China was 200,000 tons,” he added.

ISMA officials said India hopes to export sugar to China under the 50% tariff category, though details are yet to be worked out. This will make the price competitive for the Chinese market.

China usually charges 80% tariffs on sugar imports.

The response from Chinese officials to India’s offer was mostly positive, Goel said. “The response was extreme positive but also slightly sceptical because India hasn’t really always supplied. Once India actually starts to supply, they will find Indian sugar far, far better than that of other countries,” he said.

India has also sought greater access to the world’s second-largest economy for products such as pharmaceuticals to reduce a trade deficit of more than $51.1 billion in bilateral trade worth more than $80 billion.

Speaking at the meeting, the counsellor economic of the Indian embassy, Prashant Lokhande, noted the growing economic engagement between the two sides and assured Chinese firms that India would emerge as a major sugar trading partner with consistent policies and quality product.

First Published: Jun 01, 2018 17:21 IST