The world’s largest sugar consumer, India, will likely need to import about 1.5 million tons of sugar in 2017, the chairman of one of India’s sugar trade associations told Reuters.
In an interview in the Dubai Sugar Conference, the chairman of the All India Sugar Trade Association, Praful Vithalani said that “the timing of the imports will be settled by the government but I personally feel that around 1.5 million tons is enough.”
The government could likely make a decision on imports by March but no later than April 15, Vithalani said. Vithalani expects that, by that time, the government will have a clearer forecast for production and consumption figures.
The government’s production forecast of 22.5 million tons remains the same for the time being but it is to be expected of the Food Ministry to reevaluate the forecast soon.
Vithalani expects production for 207 to be around 20 million tons, with opening stocks of 7.7 million tons and consumption of about 24.5 million.
Vithalani said: “That would leave us with opening stocks of 3.2 million come October 2017 to last until Nov. 10 and this is not a good opening stock to open the season with.”
“That is too low, even sometimes dangerous,” he added.
The import tax would have to be removed if the government does decide to import, said Vithalani.
The government often scraps the import tax and ban futures trading on commodity exchanges given as how sugar is such a politically sensitive commodity in India.
The sugar will be imported from Thailand or Dubai when the government does decide to import, according to Vithalani.