Government allays fears on sugar imports from Pakistan

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NEW DELHI: Allaying fears that India has imported large quantities of sugar from Pakistan, the government on Wednesday clarified that the imports were 1,908 tonne in the current fiscal, only 1.63% of the country’s total imports and that the number is not abnormal.

Till May 14 in this fiscal, $0.657 million worth of sugar was imported from Pakistan as against 13,110 tonne valued at $4.68 million in 2017-18.

“This is nothing abnormal…It is difficult to say whether the quantity of sugar imported from Pakistan was duty-free at present,” Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) chief Alok Vardhan Chaturvedi told reporters.

He was responding to reports that the Congress party and the NCP claimed that the centre’s policy of allowing the import of sugar from neighbouring Pakistan was leading to a crash in its prices in the domestic market.

At present import of sugar is free with a customs duty of 100%. There is no Pakistan specific restriction for any item for imports to India. Sugar is mostly imported from Brazil.

Sugar if imported under Advanced Authorisation is meant for export only and not for domestic sale.

For making customs duty payment, importers can use MEIS (merchandise Exports from India) scrips which are either received from government against exports as exports incentives or importers can purchase them from other exporters.

Further, India exported 1.75 million tonne of sugar in 2017-18. During April-May 2018, the total export of sugar has been 2,40,093 tonne.

“Thus import from Pakistan has been very miniscule as compared to total production in the country and exports from India,” the commerce ministry said in a statement.

While the government has asked customs department to carry out “rigorous inspection” and sampling of sugar for quality tests at Mumbai and Punjab borders, it is not planning any restrictions on sugar imports.

The director general added that there is no proposal to restrict sugar imports from any country.

Though the upper limit to impose import duty on sugar under the WTO is 150% but Chaturvedi said that a hike in import duty on sugar beyond 100% will need amendment to the Finance Act.

Source: Economic Times

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