Egypt Independent: Business-Main news en Sudan emerges as regional hub for sugar imports, smuggling rife <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Sudan has long been known for its sweet tooth, but is now importing far more sugar than it can consume after the removal of customs duties with some supplies smuggled across its porous borders to neighboring countries such as South Sudan and Chad.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The government opened up sugar imports to the private sector and removed customs duties in 2012, following complaints about shortages, but shipments into the country now far exceed domestic needs and are even threatening the country&#39;s producers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Traders said sugar had been smuggled into neighboring countries where customs duties and shipping costs can be higher including South Sudan, Chad and Eritrea while some may also be filtering across its northern border to Egypt.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The sugar entering Sudan incurs less duty than on entering Egypt directly thereby providing more of an incentive to take the Sudan route,&quot; a European trade source said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sugar is a key staple in Sudanese diets and tea sweetened with several spoonfuls of sugar is a favourite drink. Supplies of fresh fruit and other natural sources of sweetness are not always plentiful or affordable.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This year, Sudan is expected to import 1.2 million tons of sugar worth $600 million, a source in a state sugar company said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sudan needs barely more than half that total, however, to cover the shortfall between its demand of around 1.5 million tons and domestic production of about 850,000 tons.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That suggests that 550,000 tons is being re-exported or smuggled into neighboring countries.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It is a lucrative business, Sudanese traders say, because they are able to buy cargoes on the international market using letters of credit with deferred settlement dates, sell their sugar and use the proceeds to settle their accounts.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sudan&#39;s sugar refiners complain that imported sugar is putting them out of business as they have to pay taxes while sugar imports are exempted from duties.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Imported sugar is sold for 18 Sudanese pounds less per 50 kilo-sack than domestically produced sugar.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The main origins of sugar for Sudan include Thailand, the world&#39;s second largest exporter of the sweetener and India, the number two producer.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Indian coastal refineries also ship so-called &quot;tolled&quot; sugar, which has been refined from imported Brazilian raw sugar, to Sudan.</div> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 07:30:00 +0000 Reuters 2462266 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/11/27/499612/a_man_unloads_a_sack_of_sugar_from_a_warehouse_supply_in_karachi_april_10_2010..jpg Egyptian pound steady at dollar sale and on parallel market <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The Egyptian pound was stable at a dollar sale on Thursday, with the central bank selling $37.1 million at a cut-off price of LE7.730 per dollar, with the currency also steady on the parallel market.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Earlier this month the central bank surprised the market by strengthening the pound by 20 piasters from LE7.9301 to the dollar.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The official cut-off price was unchanged from Sunday&#39;s dollar sale, but two traders said the dollar changed hands at LE8.59/.61 &nbsp;in the parallel market on Thursday, compared with LE8.60 on Tuesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Egypt announced in October that Hesham Ramez would be replaced as central bank governor this month by senior banker Tarek Amer. The move was welcomed by traders, who expect a new approach to the country&#39;s currency crisis.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Cairo has sought to tame a once-thriving currency black market with measures such as a cap on dollar-denominated bank deposits.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The central bank gave permission in January to trade dollars up to LE0.10 above or below the official rate, with currency exchange bureaux allowed to trade at LE0.15 above or below the official rate.</div> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 18:00:00 +0000 Reuters 2462259 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/11/20/499612/dollar.jpg Egypt returns ex-governor Okda to central bank fold <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Egypt has appointed ex-central bank governor Farouk al-Okda to a high-level committee at the central bank as part of a reshuffle analysts say is aimed at helping steer the country out of a foreign exchange crisis.</p><p>Okda&#39;s appointment to the coordination council, which is dedicated to setting monetary policy goals in liaison with the government, was published in the official gazette a day before new central bank governor Tarek Amer takes the helm.</p><p>Okda was central bank governor from 2003 to 2013 and was credited with helping stabilise the pound in a managed floating exchange rate that better reflected supply and demand.</p><p>The move suggests that Egypt is headed for a change of course on monetary policy after the capital controls introduced by outgoing governor Hisham Ramez to battle a burgeoning dollar black market hit trade and industry and threatened growth.</p><p>The coordination council is headed by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and includes the central bank governor, finance minister, and other government ministers as well as one of the president&#39;s key economic advisers.</p><p>Mohamed El Erian, former CEO of Pimco, one of the world&#39;s largest bond investors, is also a member of the committee and his term was extended.</p><p>The body was initially established in 2005 but has not taken an active role though it is meant to meet every three months. Okda&#39;s appointment raises expectations the council will play a more prominent role.</p><p>Egypt has faced economic turmoil since the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak&#39;s 30-year rule. Foreign investors and tourists, on which the country relies for foreign currency earnings, have stayed away.</p><p>Foreign currency reserves have fallen from $36 billion before the 2011 revolt to about $16.4 billion in October, leaving the central bank with little firepower to defend the Egyptian pound from mounting downward pressure.</p><p>In February, Ramez imposed limits on the amount of dollars companies could deposit in banks to crush the black market.</p><p>Business people say that policy backfired, creating a severe dollar shortage that has made it difficult for companies to finance imports and discouraging foreign investors.</p><p>Egypt&#39;s central bank is semi-independent but the recent crisis has increased demands from the business community for more coordination with the government on economic policy.</p><p>Okda is also credited with overseeing the development of an interbank foreign exchange market, which helped curtail a currency black market.</p><p>Incoming governor Amer, was his deputy during that period.</p> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 17:54:00 +0000 Reuters 2462258 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/06/30/484151/central_bank_of_egypt_0.jpg Egypt, IMO sign deal on shipping industry <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>A deal was signed with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to boost relations between the UN agency and Egypt in the coming period, Egyptian Transport Minister Saad el Gioushi said on Wednesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Speaking to a MENA correspondent in London, Gioushi said Egypt&#39;s membership in the IMO executive council is crucial because it supports its role in the shipping industry.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Gioushi thanked the Egyptian Embassy in London for its strenuous efforts to campaign for Egypt ahead of the elections of the IMO executive council, slated for Friday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The deal will contribute to boosting technical cooperation between Egypt and the IMO, he said.</div> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 08:04:00 +0000 MENA 2462215 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/05/23/484151/tswyr_trq_lfrmw_3.jpg