American Sugar Alliance says Egyptian sugar shortage stirring strife

When sugar is a more frightening topic at Halloween time than ancient mummies, it’s because Egypt is actually running out of the commodity — and its scarcity is creating conflict in that country, the American Sugar Alliance recently said.

In Egypt, the government has strict control of the industry, owning all the sugar cane refineries and most of its sugar beet processing facilities. Although the nation produces much of its own sugar, it depends on imports for approximately one-third of the amount it needs annually.

With worldwide sugar surpluses dwindling, however, prices have skyrocketed, creating an import problem for Egypt. Moreover, the country also faces a currency predicament, making imports more difficult.

To curtail possible hoarding, Egyptian authorities have seized available stores, and a banking economist in Cairo said that the government is in crisis. Bloomberg News said 9,000 tons of sugar have been confiscated thus far and re-allocated to residents through state-level programs.

In May, Egypt’s industry and trade minister imposed an export tax on sugar while simultaneously removing the import tax; but the impact was not enough to resolve the imbalance. Recently, the government announced plans to import and “stockpile” sugar; but panic continues to rise in Egypt as shopkeepers’ and food makers' hands are tied without access to the supply.

“Big Candy should be careful what it wishes for in its lobbying pleas to unilaterally disarm and become dependent on subsidized foreign suppliers,” the American Sugar Alliance, based in Arlington, Virginia, said. “It's obvious that a country cannot depend on sugar imports alone to feed its people.”

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