By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Nov 29 - Dec 05, 1999
Contrary to the efforts made by sugar producers from 12 nations for
creating a strong lobby for sugar trade liberalization at the upcoming WTO talks to be
held on Nov 30, 1999 in Seattle, Pakistan has yet to announce sugar export policy for the
Despite the fact that there would be no surplus sugar for exports due
to drop in sugarcane crop production during current year, Pakistan's presence as a sugar
exporting country in the export market is vital for future export activities.
Leaving aside current year's situation when no export surplus is
available, Pakistan has gained the export market fairly explored earlier in campaign
launched in 1993-94 and 1994-95 and that status should be maintained. Pakistan produced
about 3.5 million tonnes of white sugar per year in the past two years. This made
available exportable surplus of 700,000 tonnes each season. Industry has the potential to
raise sugar production to around 7-8 million tonnes a season with improved yield of
sugarcane which demonstrate the potential of the industry.
The Confederation of Sugar producers in Thailand is making efforts to
constitute a Global Alliance for protection of sugar exports. A formal announcement in
this regard is likely to be made at a ceremony on November 28 in Seattle, just two days
ahead of the WTO talks.
The alliance would include private producers from Thailand, Brazil and
Australia which would account for 65 per cent of world sugar trade.
The alliance would lobby governments to add sugar to the list of
agricultural products to be liberalized if the Seattle meeting approves the millennium
round of trade negotiations. Sugar experts anticipate that if the sugar trade is
liberalized by WTO meeting, International sugar prices are expected to rise by 3-4 cents
It is alleged that the European Union is dumping five million tonnes of
sugar on the world market and criticised the US and Japan for alleged protectionism and
high tariff barriers.
In addition to Thailand, Brazil and Australia the alliance would
include private producers of sugar from Argentina, Canada, Columbia, Guatemala, South
Africa, Honduras, India, Panama and the Philippines.
After high level ministerial talks this week, Thailand and Australia
agreed to wage a joint push in Seattle for Liberalization of the trade in agricultural
commodities. Agriculture products would be the most challenging yet most important issue
on the WTO agenda.
The new government is giving due importance to the agriculture sector
which produces a real strength to Pakistan's economy. The farmers have been allowed
electricity consumption at a highly subsidised rates white banking system has already been
advised to provide agriculture loans to the farmers at the easy terms. The public sector
has also been advised to intervene into cotton market to ensure fair and timely return to
In order to facilitate sugar export, the government in its export
policy for sugar had enhanced input rebate from Rs1500 to Rs4500 per tonne last year.
Keeping in mind the declined sugar production this year the government
has not yet announced export policy for the sugar industry this year. Keeping a mum on
this subject seems an unprofessional attitude as whatever the production status may be
announcement of a policy is indeed necessary to remain alive in the export market.
Mohammed Ebrahim Hasham, Chief Executive of Mehran Sugar Mills Ltd.
while commenting on business expectations for next millennium said that there is potential
for increasing sugarcane production through improved yield per acre and sugar production
through better recovery. Sugarcane yield per hectare at an average of 50 tonnes as maximum
and average sugar recovery of 8.7 per cent maximum have oth been once of the lowest with
reference to the principal sugarcane and sugar producing countries.
The installed capacity of sugar production in Pakistan industry needs
no further capital outlay at least for a decade. The industry has to concentrate efforts
in its optimizing production capacities. Pakistan sugar industry has emerged as one of the
players in the export arena.
He felt that future invariably holds promise for those who concentrate
on improvements in productivity of men, money, machines and motivation. The prosperity of
rural economy of Pakistan depends on the role sugar industry plays, as no other industry
needs similarly to be located close to the farms as is in the case of the sugar industry.
Effective aggregate sugarcane crushing capacity per day in the country
is at about 380,000 tonnes a day. At national average sugar recovery of 8.8 per cent and
working of 76 sugar mills sugar production can be 5.620 million tonnes. To achieve this
production level, sugarcane requirement would work out at 63.863 million tonnes. The dry
weather pls 14 per cent reduction in cultivation area has however rendered the sugarcane
production less than 45 million tonnes this season.
Sugar production and exports during the past two years were remarkable.