Libya boosts sugar purchases as unrest grows
Tripoli, September 29, 2012
Libya has stepped up white sugar purchases to replenish supplies used up during last year's war and to stem unrest in the North African country.
White sugar imports dropped sharply last year during the revolution that ousted long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Annual sugar consumption in Libya in 2008 to 2010 was estimated at 280,000 to 290,000 tonnes a year, according to industry association the International Sugar Organization (ISO).
Last year, purchases dropped to 123,000 tonnes, from 296,000 tonnes in 2010, the ISO said.
"Effectively, a lot has been used this year and last year and not much was left," a Middle East-based trader said. "This year, Libya did not import as much as they used to and they need to build up their strategic stocks."
Port loading data in Brazil showed nearly 30,000 tonnes of white sugar had been shipped in recent weeks with a further cargo of nearly 30,000 tonnes of raw sugar also bound for Libya.
A cargo of 26,000 tonnes of white sugar was due to be dispatched from Brazil in coming days, port loading schedules showed.
"The Libyans have been very quiet for some time. Everybody was expecting them to come back on the market," a European trade source said.
Libya has identified new routes to source its sugar needs more cheaply this year, displacing traditional imports from the European Union, traders and analysts said.
One dealer talked of a cargo of Indian refined sugar bound for Libya this month. The country has no refining capacity of its own because its population is too small to justify investment in a refinery.
Dealers said there had been a sharp increase in raw sugar imports to North African countries such as Egypt and Morocco this year, some of which they believed had been trucked across to Libya after refining.
According to the Kingsman sugar and ethanol consultancy, Egypt imported 1.7 million tonnes of raw sugar in 2011/12 (October/September), up from 845,000 tonnes in 2010/11.
However, an official with the export department of Egypt's state buyer, the Sugar and Integrated Industries Co, denied that Egypt was exporting sugar to Libya.
Dealers noted a larger-than-usual lineup of vessels at Brazilian ports this month loading bagged white sugar bound for Libya.
Some raw sugar shipments mentioned in line-ups at Brazilian ports bound for Libya, are believed to be erroneous, dealers said, referring to the lack of refining capacity.
Brazil exported 59,000 tonnes of sugar to Libya in 2010, before the revolution, down from 103,000 tonnes in 2009, according to the ISO.-Reuters