Duty-free sugar imports window abused

A man shops for sugar. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A man shops for sugar. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The window for duty-free sugar imports ended at midnight on August 31, 2017. However, I have it on authority that four politically well-connected importers are intensely lobbying the Ministry of Agriculture to give them a special dispensation to continue bringing in sugar from Brazil beyond the period for the window for duty-free imports.

Mark you, at the end of the August 31st window, merchants had brought in duty-free about 400,000 tonnes of bulk brown sugar from Brazil. This adds up to about six months of national sugar consumption.

What has the duty-free window for imports of brown sugar from Brazil achieved?

Significantly, it has put a great deal of competitive pressure on domestic consumer prices. We were going to experience crippling sugar shortages.