New rules for the importation of sugar from Belarus went into effect at the end of last week. Now it can be imported through any customs checkpoint but with a limit for the year of 180,000 tons, that is, half the old limit. Next year, the limit will be reduced to 100,000 tons. Previously, Belarusian sugar could only be brought into Russia through the Troekurovsky customs post in the Western customs port in Moscow.
Sugar produced in Belarus from sugar beets can be imported into Russia duty-free, but sugar produced in Belarus from imported raw materials is subject to a duty of $340 per ton.
The Russia sugar market amounts to 5-5.5 million tons ($3.5 billion) per year. In 2006, 650,000 tons of refined sugar were imported, 80 percent of it from Belarus (7.8 percent of the total market). Sugar imports from Belarus grew by 34 percent, to 431,000 tons, between 2002 and 2005. Last year, Belarusian sugar was on average 10 percent cheaper than Russian sugar.
Russian sugar industry analysts say that there is little real control over sugar imports from Belarus. The average price of refined sugar rose by 1.50 ruble to 15.70 rubles per kilogram in March.