Manila vows to fill US sugar quota

Despite the projected decline in local sugar production for the current crop year, Manila vowed to fill the sugar quota allocated by the United States to the Philippines for fiscal year (FY) 2019 under a preferential trade scheme.

Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) chief Hermenigildo R. Serafica made the pronouncement after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced recently that its tariff-rate quota (TRQ) on raw cane sugar for FY 2019 is 1.117 million metric tons raw value (MTRV). The volume is the minimum to which the US is committed under the World Trade Organization’s Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture.

This was also the same volume set by the USDA for the current fiscal year ending September 30. FY 2019 would start on October 1 and would end on September 30 next year.

Countries authorized by the US to export sugar under the TRQ scheme may do so at lower duties. The US Trade Representative is yet to allocate the volume among countries allowed to ship sugar under the TRQ scheme.

Philippine Sugar Millers Association (PSMA) Executive Director Francisco D. Varua said, however, that the Philippines is always assured of a 13.5-percent share of the total TRQ. This means that Manila would receive an allocation of 142,160 MT raw value (MTRV), or about 136,201 MT in cane weight (MTCW) for FY 2019.

Varua agreed with Serafica that the Philippines will be able to deliver its sugar quota to the US.

Since FY 2015-2016, Manila has been able to fill up the sugar quota allocated by Washington. In FY 2014-2015, Manila was able to export only half of its allocation to the US as El Niño slashed Philippine sugarcane output.

As for its quota for the current fiscal year, Serafica said Manila has shipped three boatloads of raw sugar amounting to 85,086.77 MT.

Serafica said the fourth vessel that would carry the next round of the country’s outbound shipment to the US would arrive by the third week of July.

In June the SRA issued Sugar Order 12 which authorized the verification of the production of “A” sugar bound for the US market from the previous two crop years.

Data obtained by the BusinessMirror showed that as of June 29, which was the deadline for verification, the SRA was able to validate 155,848.29 MT of “A” sugar.

Given this figure, Serafica said, Manila will be able to ship its entire sugar allocation for FY 2018 and will even have a carry-over volume for the next fiscal year.