LONDON, Oct 8 (Reuters) India is competing against top sugar producer Brazil to export raw sugar to leading importer Russia, but no deals have been done yet, said S.L. Jain, chief executive of India's sugar export corporation ISEC, on Monday.
''We are neck and neck with Brazil,'' Jain told Reuters in a phone interview.
''There have been a few enquiries (to move Indian raw sugar to Russia.)'' He said freight rates from west India to the Black Sea were roughly -75 per tonne, similar to freight from Brazil to the Black Sea. Freight rates have been soaring recently due to strong Chinese demand for hard commodities.
Jain declined to give current FOB prices for Indian raw sugar.
However, he said Russia was becoming less reliant on raw sugar imports as the country boosted its domestic production.
Indian sugar mills are under pressure to export with huge supplies and a bumper crop expected in the new season that began in October.
India is expected to overtake Brazil as the world's top sugar producer in 2007/08 and a lack of storage may force it to sell at lower prices later this year, the London-based International Sugar Organization (ISO) said last month.
The ISO has forecast Indian sugar output in 2007/08 (October/September) at an all-time high of 33.15 million tonnes, up eight percent year-on-year.
Jain said that Indian exporters were negotiating possible raw sugar sales to Egypt and Iran, but no deals had been concluded so far.
He said small quantities of Indian raw sugar had been sold to Bangladesh and Indonesia, and that sales to Malaysia and Saudi Arabia were possible.
Jain also noted potential demand for Indian raw sugar from some African countries.
He said total exports of raw sugar from India's 2007/08 crop totalled nearly 600,000 tonnes so far, of which no less than 350,000 tonnes were destined for the Dubai al-Khaleej refinery, which continues to be a strong market for Indian raw sugar.
''Dubai is the most likely destination for me,'' he said.
REUTERS MP HS1753