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India to restrict sugar exports to safeguard food supplies

India to restrict sugar exports to safeguard food supplies
India, the world's largest sugar producer, has announced restrictions on international sugar exports through September to protect country's food supplies. Photo by 955169/Pixabay

May 25 (UPI) -- Sugar could be in short supply this summer after India announced Wednesday it will restrict sugar exports to international markets.

India, the world's largest producer of sugar and the second largest exporter behind Brazil, will cap sugar exports at 10 million tons through September to maintain the country's supply and keep prices from spiking.

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Wednesday's announcement by the Indian government comes two weeks after the country banned wheat exports in a blow to global buyers counting on India to fill the gap following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia together account for about 30% of all global wheat exports.

India's sugar export restriction is the latest protectionist move by a number of countries around the world to safeguard food supplies as inflation soars amid supply-chain disruptions.

Malaysia has stopped selling chickens abroad saying "the government's priority is our own people." Argentina banned exports of certain beef cuts. And Indonesia temporarily banned the export of palm oil used in many food items in April. That ban was lifted last week.

International sugar prices have shot up 20% in the last year due to supply issues and increased demand following the COVID-19 pandemic. Global energy prices are also putting pressure on sugar mills in Brazil to produce biofuel from sugar-based ethanol.

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While safeguarding its sugar supply, the Indian government said Wednesday there is an exception. Sellers can seek "specific permission" from authorities for any sugar export between June 1 and Oct. 31.

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