“We only got one offer and so we had to cancel, we will be re-tendering for the same quantity soon,” an official at the General Foreign Trade Organisation, who declined to be identified, said on Monday.
Civil war and a deepening humanitarian crisis have prompted the government of President Bashar Al-Assad to issue tenders for sugar, wheat, flour and rice since July, with payment made through frozen funds abroad, but international traders have shown little enthusiasm to do deals.
Syria was seeking the sugar for a second time in a tender that closed August 13. It had previously asked for the same quantity in a tender that closed on July 16.
The state grain agency on August 20 cancelled a tender for 200,000 tonnes of soft million wheat, saying the offers were not in accordance with its specifications.
Traders at the time pointed out the complexity and uncertainties of navigating Syria’s financial system, crippled by Western sanctions imposed in response to Assad’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
The GFTO wanted sugar packed in bags for shipment within 150 days of opening a letter of credit for the tender winner.
The tender document had stated that Syria was seeking the quantity, “due to extreme urgency.”
The GFTO was looking to tap frozen government bank accounts abroad to pay for the sugar but the new proposed system for payment has so far failed to attract interest from international traders who say it is far too complex and puts too much of a burden on the seller.