China’s Ministry of Commerce has introduced duties on out-of-quota sugar imports to protect the domestic industry.
The ministry said in a statement on its website that it was slapping duties for a period of three years, setting it at 45 percent that would be reduced to 40 percent and then 35 percent in each subsequent year.
The duties do not cover imports within the quota of 1.95 million tonnes for 2017. Last year, China imported 3.06 million tonnes of sugar, down 36.8 percent from 2015, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Experts said the ruling may ot help control the flow of low-priced sugar in China, the world’s biggest importer.
According to Reuters, the move could hit imports from Brazil and Thailand as it will close the big gap between Chinese and international prices.
But the news agency also quoted traders as saying that “the higher tariffs will also likely spur increased smuggling across China’s porous southern border, while some imports from major producers may be shipped through third-party nations excluded from the tariffs.”
Sugar is one of the few sectors in which China struggles to compete given the higher costs of its smallholder farmers, who produce about 10.5 million tonnes of cane and beet sugar a year, it said.
The country imports another 3 million tonnes of sugar every year, while Beijing has been trying to crack down on illegal shipments of as much as 2 million tonnes a year, Reuters reported.