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Sugar imports into Ethiopia, Africa's second-most populous country, are expected to climb 29% in 2019/20 from the previous year as production falls, a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) attache said in a report published on Wednesday. Ethiopian sugar production for the 2019/20 season is pegged at 240,000 tonnes, down sharply from the USDA's previous estimate of 400,000 tonnes, as the sector grapples with bad weather and mismanagement, the attache in Addis Ababa said.

Currently, the state-owned Ethiopian Sugar Corporation (ESC) is in charge of sugar production and trade and operates 13 mills across the country - 10 of which have for years been only partially-completed because of corruption and bad management, the attache said. But the new more free market-oriented government has vowed to privatize several state-owned entities and is now "in the process of finalizing the necessary pre-privatization activities to privatize all thirteen sugar mills," the report said. Ethiopia's sugar imports in 2019/20 are expected to mainly come from India, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria, the attache said.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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