Bloomberg News

EU’s Sugar Exports to Syria Soar as War, Sanctions Slow Refining

February 13, 2013

Sugar exports from the European Union to Syria soared last year as war disrupted local refining.

About 220,660 metric tons of sugar were shipped to Syria from the EU in the 11 months through November, according to the most recent data from Brussels-based Eurostat. That’s up 63 percent from 135,369 tons exported in all of 2011. The European Union mostly produces white, or refined, sugar.

“Syria is importing mostly white sugar these days as refineries there slowed because of the war,” Leonardo Bichara Rocha, a senior economist at the London-based International Sugar Organization, said by phone yesterday.

Refiners in Syria are finding it difficult to import raw sugar because of sanctions, Tarif Akhras, chairman of the T. Akhras Group, which used to own a refinery near Homs, said in an interview in Dubai on Feb. 2. Akhras himself is listed under EU sanctions against Syria for “benefiting from and supporting the regime,” the Council of the European Union said in 2011.

The EU imposed sanctions against Syria in 2011. Foodstuffs are exempt, according to the European Commission, the EU’s regulatory arm. More than 60,000 people have died in the two- year conflict that pits forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and rebels who seek an end to the 42-year rule of his family, according to the United Nations.

White sugar imports into Syria will climb to 600,000 tons in the 2012-13 season started in October from 280,000 tons in the same period a year earlier, the ISO estimates. The nation will bring in 50,000 tons of raw sugar in the same period, down from 450,000 tons in the 2011-12 season, ISO data showed.

Syria has two privately owned refineries, according to Swiss Sugar Brokers in Rolle, Switzerland. It also has sugar factories which process the national beet crop, ISO’s Bichara Rocha said. Local sugar production will be 70,000 tons in the 12 months started in October, Lausanne, Switzerland-based researcher Kingsman SA estimates. Consumption in the period will be 874,000 tons.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isis Almeida in London at Ialmeida3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at Ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net.


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