ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria’s biggest sugar refiner Cevital will more than double its annual production capacity to 1.8 million tonnes by the end of 2009, its owner and chief executive said on Wednesday.
Issad Rebrab told Reuters the increase would come when a second unit in the port town of Bejaia east of Algiers begins production with a capacity of 1 million tonnes per year.
“We currently produce 800,000 tonnes per year,” Rebrab said on the sidelines of a forum organised by government-run newspaper El Moudjahid. “The production increase will help us cover the additional needs of the domestic market and export 900,000 tonnes to Europe, Tunisia and Libya.”
Algeria’s annual requirement of white sugar is estimated at 1 million tonnes. Cevital imports most of its raw sugar from Brazil. It also produces vegetable oils and
Rebrab, whose group has begun investing in other sectors such as power station construction and steel, praised recent steps by the government to reduce imports.
Official figures on Wednesday showed the country’s trade surplus tumbled to $899 million in the first eight months of 2009 from $29.14 billion in the same period last year as prices of its exported oil and gas fell.
Oil and gas sales still account for 97 percent of exports in Algeria despite successive attempts to develop other export sectors and create much-needed jobs.
The government said in July it was banning banks from issuing consumer loans to rein in imports.
“No businessman can be against the measures aimed at encouraging the emergence of a national productive economy,” Rebrab said.
“The volume of Algerian exports outside hydrocarbons remains negligible at less than 3 percent of total exports. The government wants a quantitative and qualitative promotion of domestic production to reduce the burden of imports.”