Vietnam halts sugar imports to clear stock

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Vietnam ordered a halt to sugar importation on Friday in a move to help local producers unload a mounting surplus.


At a meeting on Friday, Nguyen Thanh Bien, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, asked companies that have received sugar import licenses to temporarily stop signing new purchase agreements.


Bien ordered those who have already signed import deals to delay their agreements until July.


He also called on businesses to give priority to locally-produced sugar.


In February, the Ministry of Industry and Trade issued trade licenses to 24 enterprises that would allow them to import 250,000 tons of raw and refined sugar this year.


Two months later, the Vietnam Sugar Association called for an import delay, saying that local producers found it difficult to unload their stock.


As of April 15, Vietnam had around 525,000 tons of sugar in stock, up 142,000 tons from a year earlier.


Despite the surplus, the commodity has not keeping pace with the global market, at home.


Nguyen Loc An, deputy head of the Dosmetic Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, complained that local prices are too high.


"Sugar prices plummeted 18 percent on the international market during the first four months of this year. But here, in Vietnam, the price of the sweetener fell by between 2.5 and 9.2 percent during the same period."


An called on the Vietnam Sugar Association review the local distribution system.


Sugar currently retails at more than VND20,000 (US$1) per kilogram at local supermarkets.


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