By Mayank Bhardwaj and Rajendra Jadhav
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India has exported around 8.5 million tonnes of sugar since the current season began on Oct. 1, with exporters likely to contract another 1.5 million tonnes for overseas sales in the next five months, trade and government sources said on Thursday.
India, the world's biggest sugar producer and consumer, on May 24 imposed restrictions on exports of the sweetener for the first time in six years by capping exports at 10 million tonnes.
The government also asked exporters to seek export permits, or authorisation, for any overseas shipments between June 1 and Oct. 31.
"Until the restriction to register cargoes with us came into place on June 1, mills exported about 8.5 million tonnes of sugar," said a senior government official who didn't wish to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Another government official, who also declined to be identified, confirmed the shipments.
Global prices are attractive and sugar mills are keen to cash in on higher international rates but they are waiting for the government to issue export permits, traders said.
"Current global prices are attractive for exports and there is a huge demand for Indian sugar," said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading house. "India will be easily exporting 10 million tonnes."
"Cane crushing is almost over and mills have already sold most of their raw sugar stocks, so in the coming months they will primarily be exporting white sugar," the trader said.
Cane crushing in India begins in October and starts to taper off by April.
Traders are currently offering Indian raw sugar between $465 and $470 a tonne a free-on-board, and white sugar between $480 and $485 a tonne.
There is a strong demand for Indian sugar, especially from Iran, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the UAE (the United Arab Emirates," said Rahil Shaikh, managing director of MEIR Commodities India, a trading house.