The Confederation of Sugar Producers (CONFED) said opening up sugar importation will lead to the demise of the local sugar industry and will undermine all efforts poured in by government.
Raymond Montinola, CONFED spokesperson, in a statement said the sugar industry is just starting to mechanize and should be given a chance to flourish and recover especially that it involves millions of workers in 28 provinces.
Montinola said while other Asean countries have opened agricultural trade, they have also implemented measures to protect their commodities from the onslaught of imports.
He cited Thailand, a major source of sugar, which has included in its general exclusion list basic commodities such as rice, sugar and palm oil.
Montinola said sugar producers in Thailand are also highly subsidized which enable them to sell their sugar surplus at a much cheaper price.
CONFED said Thailand is estimated to produce 14.2 million metric tons (mmt) of sugar by yearend but only consumes 2.55 (mmt), with 11.5 mmt for export.
He said Malaysia and Indonesia also have tight government policies regulating the entry of imported sugar to ensure imports do not compete and kill their own local sugar industries.
Wennie Sancho, secretary-general of Sugar Watch Philippines (SWP) said the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has to ensure it balances the entry of imports with the interest of stakeholders of the sugar industry.