India on Tuesday imposed restrictions on the export of sugar to 10 million tonnes from June 1 for the first time in six years.

The government said that the decision was taken to ensure adequate supplies and keep prices stable.

“With effect from June 1, 2022, up to 31 October, 2022, or until further orders, whichever is earlier, export of sugar is allowed only with specific permission from Directorate of Sugar, Department of Food and Public Distribution and Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution,” a notification said. “Detailed procedure for issue of necessary permissions for export of sugar will be notified separately.”

However, sugar exports to the European Union and the United States under CXL and Tariff Rate Quota will continue, according to PTI. A specified amount of sugar is exported to these regions under the quota.

India is the world’s biggest sugar producer and the second-largest exporter after Brazil. Export restrictions by India would likely increase prices globally.

The country had last restricted the export of sugar by imposing an export duty of 20% in 2016, the Hindustan Times reported.

Tuesday’s decision came at a time when India is set to register its highest-ever exports, according to The Indian Express.

During the previous seasons, about 6.2 lakh metric tonnes of sugar was imported in 2017-‘18, 38 lakh metric tonnes in 2018-‘19, and 59.60 lakh metric tonnes in 2019-‘20. In 2020-‘21, about 70 lakh metric tonnes of sugar was exported against the government’s target of 60 lakh metric tonnes.

However, in the current season, the contracts to export sugar up to 90 lakh metric tonnes have been signed. While about 82 lakh metric tonnes of sugar have been dispatched from mills and about 78 lakh metric tonnes of sugar have already been exported.

“The decision will ensure that the closing stock of sugar at the end of sugar season [September 30] remains 60-65 lakh metric tonnes, which is 2-3 months stocks [monthly requirement is around 24 lakh metric tonnes in those months] required for domestic use,” the Department of Commerce said.

Duty-free import of sunflower oil

In a bid to tame price rise, the Union finance ministry on Tuesday also waived customs duty and agriculture infrastructure development cess on yearly import of up to 20 lakh metric tonnes of crude soyabean and sunflower oil.

The exemption will come into effect from Wednesday and will be applicable for this financial year (2022-’23) and the next one (2023-’24), the finance ministry said in a notification.

A customs duty of 15% and an agriculture cess of 20% is usually levied on the import of both the edible crude oils, according to government data

The price of edible oils has been one of the major contributors to a spike in India’s retail inflation that surged to an eight-year high of 7.79% in April. Among food items, oils and fats had the highest inflation rate of 17.28% during the month, government data showed.