Marcos approves sugar importation to ease prices

December 22, 2022
Philippine Daily Inquirer |

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is also the country’s agriculture secretary, is hastening the entry of imported refined sugar to stabilize its selling prices, a move widely opposed by sugar producers as the Philippines still has sufficient local supply.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) issued an order directing the agency’s Minimum Access Volume (MAV) Secretariat officer in charge and Executive Director Jocelyn Salvador to “immediately convene” the MAV Advisory Council.

Likewise, the council is instructed to “expedite the importation of 64,050 metric tons of refined sugar through the MAV mechanism.”

MAV refers to the volume of a specific agricultural product that can be imported with a lower tariff. This is the minimum volume committed by the Philippines to the World Trade Organization.

The agency issued this directive as Marcos expressed concern over the “high inflation rate” of sugar. Citing government data, it noted that the annual inflation increment for sugars, confectionery and desserts reached 38 percent in November.

The United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (Unifed) is not opposing any plans to import sugar. Yet, the group appealed to the president to halt any attempts at importation while sugar milling “is at its peak.”

We are at the peak of harvest and we have abundant stocks of raw and refined sugar, as such we see no need to import sugar at this time,” said Unifed president Manuel Lamata in a statement.

“We are appealing to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to halt this importation of refined sugar through the minimum access volume mechanism until the results of a post-assessment of sugar stocks after the end of the milling season can be conducted,” added Lamata.

The latest figures from the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) showed that total physical refined sugar stood at 203,704.80 MT as of Dec. 11, up by 56.66 percent from 130,032.75 MT recorded in the same period a year ago.

Refined sugar produced reached 248,024.10 MT, an increase of 36.36 percent from last year, the same SRA tally indicated.

The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. said the DA’s latest move is necessary to bring down sugar’s retail price.