The Philippines has allowed the importation of 504,050 metric tons (MT) of sugar, bulk of which being refined, to augment local supply and pull down the elevated prices of the commodity in the domestic market.
The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Board approved on Monday a sugar order (SO) that would authorize the entry of 440,000 MT of refined sugar in the country for domestic use.
The national government has also approved the importation of 64,050 MT of sugar through the minimum access volume (MAV) mechanism.
SRA board member Pablo Azcona, who represents the sugarcane planters, confirmed these developments to the media after the Board’s meeting on Monday.
The SO for the government’s latest import program was signed by Senior Agriculture Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban, SRA Administrator David John Thaddeus P. Alba, SRA Board Members Maria Mitzi V. Mangwag and Azcona.
SO import program
The 440,000-MT import volume will be divided as follows: 200,000 MT for consumer use and 240,000 MT for buffer stocking purposes. The imported sugar will enter the country on a staggered basis, Azcona explained.
The 100,000 MT can enter the country as soon as possible, while the other 100,000 MT will only be allowed to arrive starting April 1.
The remaining 240,000 MT can enter anytime and shall form the two-month buffer stock as earlier ordered by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.
All the imported sugar will be initially classified as “C” sugar or reserved sugar and shall undergo the usual conversion guidelines by the SRA board prior to domestic consumption.
“The conversion will be dependent on the decision of the Sugar Board based on the inventory,” Azcona said.
Azcona noted that the latest import program would be allocated for consumer use, which also includes industrial users.
MAV import program
Azcona disclosed that the SRA board is still in the process of ironing out the guidelines for the 64,050-MT MAV importation program.
He explained that the MAV Management Committee (MMC) approved the utilization of the sugar MAV. He added that the SRA will still have the power to classify and reclassify the sugar imported under the said trade mechanism.
“We will do the implementing rules and regulations of the MAV [importation]. We already have a draft guidelines, but we will still change it to address the issues we have discussed,” he added.
For one, Azcona said, the SRA board is proposing that the arrival of the imported sugar under MAV will be between mid-April and end-August. Furthermore, all the stocks under the MAV shall be consumed before the start of the next crop year on September 1.
The issue that the SRA is clarifying with the MMC is whether the 64,050 MT volume would be raw or refined sugar.
It can be recalled that no less than Marcos instructed Panganiban last December to fast-track the facilitation of sugar importation using the MAV mechanism. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2023/01/02/govt-mulling-over-mav-scheme-for-sugar-imports/)
Latest SRA price monitoring report showed that the average price of refined sugar in Metro Manila wet markets as of January 27 was at P98 per kilogram, while those sold in supermarkets were averaging P100.59 per kilogram.