BAGHDAD: Iraq will stop imports of refined sugar for a government food distribution programme, as the nation’s own production rises, officials said.
The government has signed a contract with Etihad to be supplied with sugar from its refinery in Hilla, south of Baghdad, said Qasim Hmoud, Iraq’s State Company for Foodstuff Trading’s general manager, in a statement on the trade ministry website.
The sugar bought by the government is distributed for free to the population under a food rationing program that also includes flour, cooking oil and rice.
The contract with Etihad would effectively put an end to refined sugar imports, said a trade ministry spokesman.
Iraq is reviving its national industry after years of neglect, as it seeks to reduce dollar imports after falling oil prices hurt its income.
Its traditional sugar suppliers are Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and Canada.
The Etihad refinery will be able to supply all the sugar distributed under the rationing program, the company’s commercial manager Haider Al-Numani told Reuters. The company imports its raw sugar from Brazil, he said.
Iraq consumes 900,000 tonnes of sugar per year, the majority of it through the rationing program, the trade ministry spokesman said.