|A sugarcane farm in Việt Nam. The total area of sugarcane farms in the country has contracted steadily over the past 10 years due to smuggled sugar. Photo tuoitre.vn
HÀ NỘI — The Vietnam Sugar and Sugarcane Association (VSSA) has reported that the volume of sugar exported to Việt Nam from Laos has increased sixty-fold since the country imposed an anti-dumping tax on Thai sugar last year.
The same can also be observed in the sugar trade between Việt Nam and Cambodia.
These sudden booms have raised a concern that Thai sugar has been smuggled more strongly into Việt Nam via its neighbours.
Accordingly, VSSA urged the General Department of Vietnam Customs to keep a closer watch on the sugar trade and clamp down on sugar smuggling.
The association also called for the use of QR codes to origin-track every sugar pack in the market.
As the Thai Government granted price subsidies to its sugar exporters, Thai sugar was always cheaper than Vietnamese sugar, encouraging illegal sugar to flow into Việt Nam.
Thailand's deregulation of domestic sugar prices in November 2017 also fuelled the situation, resulting in more sugar trafficking.
About 273,570 tonnes of sugar per year was smuggled into Việt Nam between 2008 and 2014 via Cambodia.
No sugar was illicitly brought into the country via Laos during the period.
From 2015 to 2019, annual smuggled sugar soared to around 757,000 tonnes, of which 557,000 tonnes came from Cambodia and 200,000 tonnes from Laos.
Sugar smuggling took place mainly in border provinces, notably An Giang, Tây Ninh and Quảng Trị.
It is also worth noting that Thai sugar imported to Việt Nam via official channels has plummeted significantly since the anti-dumping tax was imposed.
Notably, Thailand officially exported 105,794 tonnes of sugar to Việt Nam in January 2021. In January 2022, the figure fell to just 4,350 tonnes.
Upon entering Việt Nam, the smuggled sugar was mixed with domestic sugar or had its packaging changed to look like a domestic product.
Some smugglers even pre-packed Thai sugar in Cambodia before manoeuvring it into Việt Nam via land borders. — VNS