July 04, 2013
A lack of Pakistani sugar available for export and strong demand before Ramazan have created opportunities for Indian sales to nearby markets, but the window for foreign sales risks closing soon. Ramazan starts on July 9 and is followed by three days of celebration after it ends on August 7. As it passes, the associated demand for sugar will dwindle and India”s domestic consumption for festivals will rise, driving Indian prices up above levels that would be competitive abroad. Reversing a trend for imports, traders this week reported Indian white sugar export deals totalling 75,000 tonnes in July, stoked by a weak rupee and strong demand in the Gulf and Africa linked to Ramadan. Indian mills have chances to sell to markets such as Sri Lanka partly due to dwindling supplies of Pakistani sugar.
“Mills in Pakistan have very little quantity to offer,” said Muhammad Najib Balagamwala, chairman of Karachi-based SeaTrade group. He said nearly three-quarters of an allowed 1.2 million tonnes had been exported from Pakistan. “For the remaining quantity, deals have been signed and registered with the state Bank of Pakistan,” he said. “If some deals get cancelled, then other exporters will get permission to export that much.” Pakistan was expected to return as an important exporter next season as the outlook for next year”s crop looks favourable, dealers said.
TIGHTROPE “Indian exporters are walking a tightrope,” said Kamal Jain, managing director of brokerage Kamal Jain Trading Services. “Going ahead it would be very difficult to sign new deals.” A senior London-based analyst with a trade house said he was surprised to hear of recent Indian export business. “The domestic market is paying more than the world market could or should be paying,” the analyst said.
An exporter based in Mumbai, who sold a few cargoes to Sri Lanka for July shipment, saw limited scope for Indian exports in coming months. “The maximum, I think, India can sell would be 50,000 tonnes more in the next two months. From August onwards local prices will start rising. We have festivals,” he said. “Then it would be difficult to convince mills to sell sugar at lower prices to exporters.”
“In the last week of June, the weak rupee, falling local prices and strong demand due to Ramadan allowed sugar mills to strike a few deals,” the exporter said. “Pakistan”s absence from the market also gave a boost. Pakistan was selling sugar at very low prices. It sold even at $470 per tonne. India can”t do that. Local prices in India are higher than that.” Some Indian millers are not prepared to sell below $480 per tonne, trade sources said.