Mexican sugar exports to the US are expected to soar next year, boosted by more favourable trade regulations and a growing need for sugar following the Katrina hurricane, a government spokesman told just-food.

"We are analysing the market and we realise that there's a very strong chance to export more next year," the spokesman said, adding that US sugar demand is rising after many Southern production fields were wiped out during Katrina.

Indeed, the government is projecting Mexico will export up to 500,000 tonnes of sugar between January and September 2006. That's up from just 84,000 tonnes sold to the US in the same 2005 period.

New regulations under the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are also seen fuelling the trade. Starting next January, Mexican over-the-quota sugar exports will enter the US paying a US$70 per tonne duty, down from the US$105 that Mexican producers forked out this year.