Commerce Department, Mexico spar over sugar deadline
The Commerce Department on May 1 said that, “after negotiations reached a impasse,” it had formally notified the Mexican government of its intention to resume the collection of antidumping and countervailing duties on sugar imports on June 5, unless an agreement is reached.
“While I regret that such measures were needed, it is my hope that Mexico and the United States can reach a fair agreement before June,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
If no agreement is reached by June 5, then the antidumping and countervailing duty orders that are now suspended will become operative and cash deposits on imports will be required, Commerce said.
The Commerce Department also provided background on the case and attached notifying letters to its news release posted on the Commerce Department website.
The Mexican government is blaming “excessive demands” from U.S. sugar producers and refiners for a failure to reach a new deal, Politico said.
“The Ministry of Economy has shown its willingness to arrive at a negotiated solution that protects the interests of Mexican producers and exporters and ensures the proper functioning of the sweeteners market (sugar-fructose) in our region,” the government said in a translated response to the latest move from the U.S, Politico reported.
“The Ministry of Economy has reiterated that the elimination of access for refined Mexican sugar to the United States is unacceptable, as it breaks the balance of the North American sweeteners market,” the statement said.
“We are grateful that the DOC is moving to bring the Mexican sugar industry into compliance with the U.S. trade laws that they were found guilty of breaking,” Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, a growers’ group said.
“But Mexico has been unwilling to take the steps necessary to fully remedy the injury they created and instead are demanding the right to continue dumping sugar onto the U.S. market,” Hayes said.
“For far too long, the unfair trade practices of Mexico’s inefficient, subsidized industry have punished efficient American sugar farmers and workers. We’ve lost more than $4 billion in revenue since their dumping began. Hawaii ceased sugar production in December after more than a century in the business, and more U.S. farms and factories are facing the same fate.
“The time has come to stand up for U.S. jobs. We will continue to work closely with the DOC to ensure that Mexico is playing by the rules and not endangering America’s 142,000 sugar farmers and workers in 22 states,” Hayes said.
The Sweetener Users Association, which represents candy companies and other industrial sweetener users, said the current U.S.-Mexico suspension agreements “have distorted sugar markets through new constraints on supplies and higher sugar price floors than the ones Congress voted for in the last farm bill.”
“They have also distorted the flow of raw and refined sugar from Mexico to the United States, leaving U.S. cane sugar refineries short of supplies, which means lack of supply for U.S. manufacturers,” the Sweetener Users said.
“We continue to urge the United States and Mexico to overhaul these agreements to encourage a more competitive marketplace and support, not harm, U.S. manufacturers and the hundreds of thousands of Americans we employ across the country.”
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