New Delhi, May 16 (PTI): India imported just 1,908 tonnes of sugar from Pakistan since April this year, the government said on Wednesday, rebutting opposition charge that large quantities of the sweetener are being shipped from the neighbouring nation.
The government also said that it would not impose any country-specific ban on sugar imports as India is signatory to the WTO pact.
“Imports have been taking place from Pakistan but it has been miniscule when compared to India’s total production and exports,” Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) chief Alok Vardhan Chaturvedi told reporters in New Delhi.
Till May 14 of this fiscal, mere 1,908 tonnes for a value of USD 0.657 million has been imported from Pakistan, as per the DGFT, which is under the commerce ministry.
“It is difficult to say whether the quantity of sugar imported from Pakistan was duty-free at present,” he said and noted that there was no cause of concern.
In the entire last fiscal, sugar imports from the neighbouring country stood at 13,110 tonnes valuing USD 4.68 million.
Asked if the government will curb sugar imports from Pakistan in view of surplus domestic output, Chaturvedi said, “So far, there are no such proposals. We cannot impose any country-wise restrictions as we are signatory to the WTO agreement.”
On raising customs duty, he said the upper limit to impose import duty on sugar under the WTO is 150 per cent.
“At present, customs duty on sugar is 100 per cent. To raise it more than 100 per cent, we have to get it passed in Parliament under the Finance Act.”
Sugar production of India, the world’s second largest producer, is estimated at record 32 million tonnes in the 2017-18 marketing year (October-September) as against 20.3 million tonnes in the previous year. The annual domestic demand is 25 million tonnes.
The DGFT said that the country exported 1.75 million tonnes of sugar in 2017-18 and 2.4 lakh tonnes so far this fiscal.
In Maharashtra, the Congress party and the NCP have attacked the Union government, claiming that its policy of allowing the import of sugar from neighbouring Pakistan was leading to a crash in its prices in the domestic market.
The Centre has doubled import duty to 100 per cent to curb cheaper shipments. It has also asked millers to export 2 million tonnes of sugar.