New Delhi, August 7:

India is hoping to sell about 200,000 tonnes of sugar to Pakistan, which has lifted the ban on imports from this country after a gap of several years.

Pakistan’s decision could not have come at a better time because in addition to a favourable rise in global prices it would help the Indian sugar industry meet part of its export obligations.

Indian traders have an export obligation almost equivalent to imports of about 2.5 million tonnes of raw sugar in the previous and present year. “The Indian industry would now be able to very safely meet its export obligation,” said S L Jain, director general of the Indian Sugar Mills Association.

“Pakistan has provided such an opportunity that 200,000 tonnes may get exported from India,” Jain said, “Given the freight advantage, exporters would be able to do so even if the government does not provide subsidy.” A catch to the export plans is the requirement of government approval at a time when there are persistent fears of a possible domestic sh-ortage and a consequent rise in retail prices, which are around Rs 18-20 Indian currency (IC) per kg.

“It will take a few months to get the government release order,” said Jain, who is keen that the industry be allowed to take advantage of the rise in global prices, particularly when Indian sugar production seems set to rise.

One of the largest sugar producers, India is also the largest consumer which now stands at about 18 million tonnes.

The Indian sugar industry is optimistic of producing over 18 million tonnes in this year with carryover stocks of about 4.5 million tonnes sufficient to meet both domestic and export demands.

To tide over its shortfall in production and the rise in domestic prices, Pakistan has imported sugar from Dubai. But it is now looking to India for the supply of high quality (whiteness) and bolder grain sugar.

Unfortunately not many sugar mills in the northern region would be able to meet this specification, say sources. Non-etheless, raw sugar importers are looking forward to liquidating some of their commitments and taking advantage of the high demand expected in Pakistan in Ramadan.