Syrian sugar refinery barely operating: report

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The Middle East Sugar Refinery in Syria is operating at 25 percent of capacity as it struggles to finance imports of raw sugar from international trade houses in the midst of the civil conflict, a source close to the refinery said.

The refinery, which has a total capacity of 600,000 tons a year, is located 50 km south of Homs. It is one of four sugar refineries in Syria.

“The capacity is low because of a shortage of raw sugar,” the source said on the sidelines of the Kingsman sugar conference.

He added that the refinery has struggled to obtain Brazilian supplies as Western sanctions hobble trade finance. The sanctions do not target food imports directly.

“Some trade houses are reluctant to trade. It’s hard for the time being, but we hope the situation will improve and that the trade houses will have a better appetite to ship raw sugar to Syria.”

Truck deliveries of raw sugar to the refinery from Tartous port are at a distance from the fighting, and operations at the port are still continuing, the source said.

The source estimated that sugar consumption in Syria had dropped by some 40 percent since the onset of the crisis.

Before the conflict, Syrians consumed roughly 800,000-900,000 tons of sugar per year.

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