The Philippines may lose its guaranteed sugar shipments to the US under a proposed farm bill that seeks to globalize export quotas.

Archimedes Amarra, president of the Philippine Sugar Millers Association, said in a text message from the US that the local sugar industry had expressed concern on bill pending before the US Congress.

“The farm bill is being deliberated upon by the US Congress. Our purpose is to make sure that our interest and that of sugar is considered,” Amarra said.

Amarra and Philippine Sugar Regulatory administrator Ma. Regina Martin have been in the US since last week to lobby for the retention of the Philippine sugar quota.

“We are looking at the medium term, not the immediate. The farm bill is being deliberated every five years and we feel we need the quota,” said Amarra.

He cited pressures on the US to globalize the quota per agreement in the Doha round of talks. The Doha talks favored no specific allocation to any country.

“It will be on a first-come, first-served basis. The possibility is there but they are not so keen on following the Doha. Nevertheless, it could also develop into a political issue in the US and we are lobbying for our interests,” Amarra said.

The Philippines is one of the preferred countries that are given annual allocation of sugar export for the US market at a premium. The local sugar sector exports an annual quota of 136,000 metric tons to the US .

In 2010, the Philippines shipped out 170,957 MT for fiscal year 2010 under the tariff rate quota scheme after the US government increased the allocation by 11,215 MT and by another 25,000 MT.

The 11,215 MT make up the volume that other countries failed to supply under a revised allocation scheme.

The SRA earlier said that the Philippines was not seeking an increase in the traditional sugar quota in the US market due to inadequate production in the current crop year.

Philippine sugar output for crop year 2010-2011 is likely to be flat at 1.96 million MT from 1.97 million MT in crop year 2009-2010. A sugar crop year starts Sept. 1 and ends Aug. 31.

The inventory at the start of the crop year reached more than 400,000 MT for both raw and refined sugar in mill warehouses despite the late start of the milling for crop year 2010-2011.

source: manilastandardtoday


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