Egypt bans sugar exports for three months to ease local market shortage
The Egyptian government last week imposed a three-month ban on all types of sugar exports in a bid to stop local market shortages.
Egypt's ministry of supply and internal trade will need to approve any possible exports of surplus sugar, the state-run Al-Ahram online news outlet reported, citing the government's Official Gazette.
The decision came as sugar prices soared in the weeks leading up to the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which started in Egypt on 23 March.
Egyptians typically consume large amounts of sugar during Ramadan, including in sweet drinks like hibiscus and tamarind juices that help stave off dehydration and in desserts like kunafa and qatayef.
To make up for the shortage, Egypt cultivated 620,000 acres of sugar beets this year – up 10,000 acres from the year before – and aims to produce 1.8 million tons of sugar from beets, the Al-Ahram report added.
Supply and internal trade minister Ali Moselhi recently raised prices for the current season’s local sugar beets by EGP75 ($US 2.43) per ton to encourage farmers to grow more of the crop as the country seeks to double crop production.
The average price of one kilogram of sugar ranges from 22-26 Egyptian pounds ($US 0.71 - 0.84) in the local market, depending on the brand - a high cost for most households.
One-third of Egypt's 104 million people are estimated to be living below the poverty line.
Over 60 million Egyptians benefit from free food rations that include sugar - though Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi moved in December 2021 to cut them down in a decision that sparked shockwaves across the country.
Besides sugar, the beneficiaries of free food rations are offered commodities such as Egyptian flatbread, cooking oil, sugar, and rice. Citizens have long complained about the low quality of these products, though.
The prices of basic commodities have shot up in recent months after the value of the local currency fell against the US dollar by almost 50 percent due to several controversial economic decisions taken by the government.