Bangladesh 4th largest sugar importer
Mahfuja Mukul: As per the government, the annual demand of sugar in Bangladesh is 16 lakh tons. However, sugar refining companies and traders think that the demand is much higher. The country has imported more than 22 lakh tonnes of sugar on an average in the last few years. The cost of this import is more than Tk 7,000 crore.
Concerned people say that the use of sugar is increasing day by day in the country. The demand is also increasing. Under such circumstances, production in state-owned sugar mills is declining. The current season has produced only 24,900 tons, which was almost double the previous year. The situation is such that six sugar mills have stopped production, citing massive losses as the reason. That is why import dependence is increasing, which is being met by private importers.
Importers say they import unrefined sugar from Brazil, India, Australia, the United Kingdom and Malaysia to cover the deficit. Although they could not specify, they estimate that 22 to 24 lakh tons of sugar has been imported in the current financial year.
As for the port of Chittagong, 21 lakh 59 thousand tons of unrefined sugar was imported in the last fiscal year 2019-20. 23 lakh 13 thousand tons of sugar has been imported in 2018-19 financial year. As per customs, its import value alone stands at Tk 7,000 crore. The highest sugar import in the history of Bangladesh was 26 lakh tons in 2016. At that time the expenditure exceeded Tk 7,500 crore.
Economist and banker Dr Haider Ali Miah thinks that it is necessary to reduce the cost of import by increasing production in the country. He said that there is so much import dependence as there is no production in the country. But we have the capacity to increase this production.
Currently closed mills need to be given to the private sector.
“Just as the country’s money will be in the country, so will everyone involved in this large industry, from sugarcane growers, be protected.”
On the other hand, the exact amount of sugar imported this year is not yet available in any government department. However, the Commerce Ministry says the country needs about 1.7 million metric tons of refined sugar. Its demand in the month of Ramadan is three lakh tons. In the last two months (January and February), the country imported 4 lakh 6 thousand tons of unrefined sugar, which is 260 thousand tons more than the same period of last year.
Bangladesh is the world’s fourth largest sugar importer, according to a report by the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Reviewing the picture of sugar imports in the last decade (2011-20) of the company, it can be seen that at the beginning of the decade, 15 lakh 36 thousand tons of sugar was imported in the country’s market. This is the lowest import of food products in decades.
Since then, the sugar import market has gone through a series of ups and downs. In 2014, for the first time in the country’s market, the amount of sugar imported exceeded 2 million tons. In 2016, the record of highest sugar import was recorded in the history of the country.
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