The EU is to lift import duties for 666,000 tonnes of sugar from any exporting non-EU country to counteract the effect of high sugar prices. 

EU member state representatives have backed a European Commission proposal to suspend a EUR98 (US$134.50) a tonne duty on EU imports of raw cane sugar for refining from 1 December to 31 August. This would cover 666,000 tonnes of sugar. 

"High world market prices for sugar currently make the cost of these imports prohibitive, which risks disrupting supplies," said a Commission note.

The International Monetary Fund says world sugar prices rose from US$0.18 cents a pound in January-March 2009, to US$0.26 last month.