Two measures to ensure the fluidity of the EU sugar market, proposed by the European Commission, have been voted on by Member States.

These come in addition to the measures agreed earlier this year to cope with the "exceptional market circumstances", with regards to world sugar prices, and will be formally adopted by the Commission in the next few weeks.

The first measure is to open a further 200,000 tonne duty-free import quota for raw or refined sugar. The second would introduce the possibility for further imports at a reduced import duty, via a tendering system, which would start in July, with "regular adjudications" until the end of the marketing year in September.

Peter Hough, business development director at Napier Brown said he doesn’t believe that a lot of the sugar from the opening of a duty-free tariff-rate quota (TRQ) of 300,000 tonnes in April, has hit the market yet, and said the firm was pleased to hear that another TRQ had been announced, as well as the tender system.

"Napier Brown got some licences for additional sugar through the first TRQ and will apply for more when the next one opens in July. We have also increased the number of sources we have for sugars in and outside Europe."

Ben Eastick, director of Ragus, an independent importer and manufacturer of specialist sugar products, said the global sugar market had seen a weakening in price over the past three months, due to the earthquake in Japan and the continuing unrest in North Africa."But prices have subsequently corrected again," he said, adding that the current lack of rain in Europe is making the beet root longer. "The consequence of this will be an abundance of sucrose in the beet if it rains, or very little if it doesn’t rain."

In the main cane-producing countries, Brazil has seen severe rain in the past few weeks which has reduced production by 69%, he added. A surge in production due to a prolonged dry spell in Thailand has eased supply tightness, while India looks unlikely to meet production estimates in its two largest producing states.

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