Justice asks court for stay in sugar decision
On Friday, the Justice Department filed a motion for a 90-day stay in the Court of International Trade’s ruling that the 2017 amended agreement between the United States and Mexico on Mexican sugar exports to the United States is not valid because the Commerce Department did not release all notes of meetings during the negotiations, the American Sugar Alliance, which represents U.S. cane and beet producers, announced Monday.
U.S. sugar producers, the Mexican sugar industry, and the Mexican government all support the U.S. government’s request for a stay, ASA said.
“This 90-day stay is necessary to ensure that everyone has ample time to file comments with the Department of Commerce on the suspension agreements and to give the Department of Commerce time to follow proper procedure during the process,” Phillip Hayes, an ASA spokesman, said in an email.
“It is important to remember that the court never addressed the merits of the amendments, and the court’s decision was purely on record-keeping procedure by the Department of Commerce,” Hayes noted.
“The Mexican government and Mexican sugar industry have both asked the U.S. government to reinstate the suspension agreements without change — a stance that U.S. producers support. The Department of Commerce has now published the suspension agreements without change as the basis for moving forward and is asking for comments from interested parties.”
CSC Sugar LLC, a Connecticut firm, has argued that “the 2017 amendment was the result of negotiations between the governments of the United States and Mexico that changed the purity definition of refined sugar, effectively altering the product definition for trade purposes and significantly imperiling CSC’s business, whose cutting-edge refining processes were developed to use a higher purity input,” Husch Blackwell, CSC’s law firm, has said.
Husch Blackwell said because the Commerce Department failed to place information regarding ex parte meetings of discussions with other members of the domestic industry and Commerce officials, including Secretary Wilbur Ross, on the record, Commerce had acted in violation of the law regarding the agreement. The court agreed and ruled that the amended agreement with Mexico is null and void.