Friday, 13 March 2009

Philippines plans to export 150,000 MT surplus sugar


THE PHILIPPINES is looking to export 150,000 metric tons of surplus sugar from the past crop year, a senior official said yesterday, despite an expected shortfall in output in the current growing season.

The export volume will be on top of the 137,000 MT already shipped to the United States, under an annual quota program in which the US buys the sweetener at prices above levels in the global market.

"We’re looking at Japan, Hong Kong, Dubai, Indonesia and possibly China," Rafael L. Coscolluela, head of the Sugar Regulatory Administration, or SRA, said in a phone interview.

"The market is not a problem; there are enough buyers in the region to absorb our surplus."

Philippine sugar exports in 2007/08 reached 152,982 MT, down from the 237,037 MT shipped out in 2006/07, according to SRA data.

Mr. Coscolluela said domestic sugar production is forecast to fall to 2.05 million MT in the current crop year ending August from a 24-year high of 2.455 million MT in the prior growing season.

That is lower than an initial estimate of 2.2 million MT made in November.

"We’re still feeling the effects of last year’s unusually wet weather which delayed milling and with delayed milling comes delayed planting," he said, adding that high prices also curbed use of fertilizer.

Still, the multi-year high output in 2007-08 resulted in a surplus of more than 650,000 MT at the end of August and the Philippines needs to export some 150,000 MT to trim its inventory.

That will bring buffer stock to around 400,000 MT at the end of the current crop year in August, said Mr. Coscolluela, which is equivalent to more than two months of national consumption.

"That’s why we’re pushing to export, because we need to get rid of the surplus," said the SRA head.

He said there was no plan at all to import sugar even with the expected output drop given the surplus last year.

Mr. Coscolluela said production should rise by 10%-15% in 2009/10 on lower fertilizer and fuel prices and better weather conditions. "The crop for next year seems to be taking off on a better footing."

The SRA chief was optimistic that a law mandating an increase in the use of locally sourced biofuel ethanol would mean bigger business for sugarcane growers.

But with only two ethanol plants operating in the country at this time, Mr. Coscolluela said Philippine oil companies will need to import 184 million liters of ethanol this year, mostly from Brazil.

The country expects national use of ethanol to reach 208 million liters this year, but local firms, which recently began investing in ethanol plants, only have capacity to produce 39 million liters.

"We have authorized the importation of 184 million liters of ethanol because there’s very limited local production," said Mr. Coscolluela, who is also vice-chairman of the National Biofuels Board.

The Philippines began mandating a 5% ethanol blend in gasoline products in February, in step with other countries which have required the use of bioethanol to stretch supplies of gasoline.

Imports last year reached just 12.3 million liters, most of them from Brazil, Netherlands and Thailand. — Reuters

1 comment:

  1. "gas prices are so high, look at what this girl got when she paid
    50 Philippine centavos!"