(Reuters) - India on Saturday approved the 2022/23 export of 6 million tonnes of sugar, in line with market expectations for the year's first tranche.
India exported an all-time high of more than 11 million tonnes of sugar in 2021/22 and the industry was expecting New Delhi this year to allow exports of 8 to 9 million tonnes in two tranches.
India is the world's biggest producer of sugar and the second biggest exporter.
New Delhi has allocated 6 million tonnes of sugar to mills based on their production in the past three years, the government said in a notification.
Industry officials were expecting the government to allow 5 to 6 million tonnes of sugar in a first tranche and another 2 to 3 million tonnes in a second tranche based on sugar production.
The notification issued on Saturday did not specify whether the government would allow a second tranche, but trade and government sources said it likely would as the country's production is set to hit a record high for a second straight year.
India is expected to produce around 36.5 million tonnes of sugar in the season that began on Oct. 1, a leading industry body said last month.
"During discussion, the government has assured the industry that it would allow exports in the second tranche. That's why the government has asked mills to export sugar before May end," said a senior industry official, who declined to be named.
Mills need to export the allocated quota either themselves or through merchant exporters or refineries before May 31, 2023, the notification said.
Anticipating permission to export 5 to 6 million tonnes of sugar this season, traders have already started signing export deals.
"Indian sugar is going to many Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries," said Praful Vithalani, president of the All India Sugar Trade Association.
"Due to brisk exports so far, it looks like that mills will be able to export 6 million tonnes of sugar by the time Brazilian supplies hit the global market," he said.