WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture today set the 2011-12 raw and refined sugar tariff rate quota (T.R.Q.), allowed early entry of imports and increased the 2010-11 specialty sugar import quota.
The U.S.D.A. set the 2011-12 (fiscal year 2012 ending Sept. 30, 2012) raw sugar T.R.Q. at 1,231,497 short tons, raw value, the minimum required for the United States under World Trade Organization commitments, which is typical for the initial import amount.

The U.S.D.A. also said T.R.Q. imports for 2011-12 may enter the United States beginning Sept. 1, 2011, a month earlier than the new marketing year begins.

“This action is in response to increased tightness in the U.S. raw cane sugar market,” the U.S.D.A. said.

Refiners have increased offering prices for bulk refined sugar by 3c to 4c a lb, to 59@60c a lb, f.o.b., in the latter half of July, according to Milling & Baking News. A year ago prices ended July around 55c a lb, but rose to 64c by early September.

The 2011-12 refined sugar T.R.Q. was set at 124,251 short tons, raw value, which includes 101,825 tons reserved for the importation of specialty sugars as defined by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (U.S.T.R.). The total refined sugar T.R.Q. includes the 24,251-ton W.T.O. minimum commitment, of which 1,825 tons is reserved for specialty sugar. The specialty sugar T.R.Q. is on a first-come, first-served basis, and will be allowed in five tranches, set to open Oct. 12, 2011, Oct. 26, 2011, Jan. 11, 2012, April 11, 2012 and July 11, 2012.

The U.S.D.A. also increased the 2010-11 (current marketing year) specialty sugar T.R.Q. by 10,000 short tons, raw value.

“This increase is needed to accommodate a rapidly growing processed organic foods sector,” the U.S.D.A. said. A new tranche will open Aug. 4, 2011, with the previously set tranche of Aug. 24, 2011, opening as scheduled for specialty sugar. Country allocations for the raw sugar T.R.Q. will be announced later by the U.S.T.R.
The U.S.D.A. originally set the 2010-11 raw sugar T.R.Q. at the 1,231,497-ton W.T.O. minimum on Aug. 5, 2010. There have been two increases to the 2010-11 T.R.Q. since then, on April 12, 2011, for 325,000 short tons, raw value, and on June 21, 2011, for 120,000 tons, bringing the total T.R.Q. for the current year to 1,676,497 tons.