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Plan to allow more sugar imports a go

The administration’s economic team is still keen on allowing more sugar imports despite vehement opposition from lawmakers and industry groups.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a press briefing during the 2019 Pre-Sona Economic and Infrastructure Forum on Monday that opening up the local market to more imported sugar would “probably benefit the country as a whole.”

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He noted the local price of sugar was double the world market price.

The policy shift, which was first entertained by former Budget Secretary and now Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas chief Benjamin Diokno, raked in a lot of criticism from sugar millers and producers and numerous lawmakers, but was warmly received by the food processing industry.

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Dominguez sided with the food processing industry, saying it has “not really taken off as an industry” despite its huge consumption of sugar.

“Maybe we should really take a close look at who’s benefiting from the [current] restrictions here and probably the conclusion would be some kind of liberalization will actually benefit the country as a whole,” he said.

“Just compare it to Thailand where they have a healthy food processing industry. There, the price of sugar is [at the level of the] world market price even though they are also producers of sugar,” he added.

Philippine Sugar Millers Association Inc. said sugar coming from Thailand were cheaper because they were highly subsidized.

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TAGS: Business, Carlos Dominguez III, sugar
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