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India curbs sugar exports to ensure supply, stabilise price

NEW DELHI (AP) – India is restricting its sugar exports to 10 million tonnes in the current season to help maintain domestic availability and keep prices stable.

The decision follows a similar measure for wheat and comes amid signs of tightening world supplies.

India is the second-largest producer, after Brazil, and biggest consumer of sugar in the world, according to the All India Sugar Trade Association. It’s the second-largest exporter of sugar.

The export curbs are its first in six years. India exported a record seven million metric tonnes in the 2021-22 financial year, which ended in March. That was up from 620,000 tonnes in 2017-18.

Estimates vary but the country is expected to produce more than 30 million tonnes in this growing season, and domestic consumption is estimated at about 28 million tonnes, with domestic reserves at roughly eight million tonnes.

In the current June-October sugar season, contracts for export of about nine million tonnes have been signed and 7.8 million tonnes were already exported, the government said in a statement.

Sugar mills and exporters will need to government approval for exports beginning next month, it said.

Sugar consumption tends to shoot up during India’s major festival season from September to November.

Sugar prices have remained relatively stable but retail inflation rate surged to an eight-year high of 7.8 per cent in April. The government has announced tax cuts on petrol, diesel, coking coal to try to curb inflationary pressures.