Dominican Republic cigar markets are booming due to a strong international demand for hand made cigars. Dark tobacco harvest is expected to be the largest in a decade and reach nearly 26,000 MT. The number of cigar manufactures has increased from 35 factories in 1993 to more than 200 factories in 1997. The United States is a significant supplier of dark leaf to the international cigar market, particularly to the Dominican Republic. In 1997, U.S. exports of cigar wrapper to the Dominican Republic are expected to total 2,650 tons. Most of the cigars manufactured in the Dominican Republic are exported to the United States and the European Union. In 1997, the Dominican Republics cigar exports are expected to reach nearly 220 million pieces, up 49 percent from 1996.
Guatemalas total unmanufactured tobacco production is expected to increase 10 percent in 1997 to 18,200 tons. This is attributed to wider access to the U.S. markets under the new tariff-rate quota and strong world burley tobacco prices. In 1997, Guatemalan tobacco farmers are expected to increase burley production by 15,860 tons. Guatemala is forecasted to export 9,320 tons of burley tobacco in 1997, compared with 9,175 tons in 1996. A major buyer of Guatemalan burley tobacco is the United States. In 1997, the United States is expected to buy 6,500 tons of burley tobacco from Guatemala. Forecasters predict that Guatemala will be unable to fill its TRQ quota in the coming year.
Guatemalan cigarette production is expected to increase in 1997 to 2.2 billion pieces. This increase is attributed to larger domestic cigarette consumption and export demand. Forecasters have predicted cigarette exports to increase by 17 percent. El Salvador is both a major buyer of Guatemalan cigarettes and a major supplier of non-Guatemalan cigarettes. Guatemalas imports of cigarettes are expected to increase by 13 percent in 1997, totaling 550 million pieces.
Through the 21st week, the Malawi Tobacco Control Commission reported 11,005 metric tons of flue-cured tobacco were sold at auction in Malawi. Last year 12,640 metric tons were sold in the same number of weeks. Flue prices were 14 percent lower than last year at US$1.96 per kilogram. Burley sales in the first 21 weeks of this year's Malawi auction season totaled 107,399 metric tons, about the same as last year. Prices for Burley were US$1.58 per kilogram, about 2 percent below last season.
Zimbabwes Tobacco Marketing board reported 153,708 metric tons of flue-cured tobacco were sold during the first 18 weeks of the auction season for an average price of U.S.$2.46 per kilogram. Daily sales are about 2,000 tons and are averaging about $2.45 per kilogram, somewhat below the season average price. The volume sold to date is slightly above the volume sold during the first 15 weeks last year, but the average price is down about 16 percent from a year earlier.