Indian Sugar Mills Association director general resigns unexpectedly

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FILE PHOTO: Vendors load sugarcane onto a vehicle at a wholesale market in Kolkata

By Mayank Bhardwaj and Rajendra Jadhav

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Abinash Verma, a leading figure in the sugar industry, has resigned unexpectedly from the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) as its director-general, the producers' body said in a statement on Friday.

As the world's No. 1 consumer of the sweetener and the biggest producer behind Brazil, India plays a crucial role in the world sugar market. Since Oct. 1, 2022, when the current sugar season began, Indian mills have signed contracts to export a record 8 million tonnes of the sweetener.

India's sugar mills have sold record volumes of the sweetener on the world market without any subsidy.

In previous years, India's subsidy irked rival suppliers such as Brazil, Australia and Guatemala and prompted them to complain to the World Trade Organization (WTO) which last year asked New Delhi to conform to global rules.

A rally in global sugar prices encouraged India to withdraw its sugar export subsidy.

In its short statement, ISMA did not give a reason for Verma's departure.

Verma, a former civil servant, confirmed he had resigned but declined to give a reason for his decision to leave ISMA after nearly 12 years as the chief of the influential industry body.

Verma was at the helm of ISMA when India was trying to stabilise its sugar output, boost exports and ramp up ethanol blending with gasoline to cut costly crude imports.

(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj and Rajendra Jadhav; editing by David Evans)

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