Sugar growers, users battle over Mexico case

The Hagstrom Report

As U.S. and Mexican officials wrangle over how to resolve the sugar dispute between the U.S. and Mexico by June 5, the American Sugar Alliance, which represents beet and cane growers, and the Coalition for Sugar Reform issued new arguments this week.

At present, Mexican sugar exports to the U.S. are regulated under suspension agreements to avoid punitive tariffs that resulted from cases brought by U.S. growers charging that Mexico has been sending the U.S. subsidized sugar dumped at prices lower than in Mexico.

But the growers contend the agreements have not been working properly because Mexico has been sending semi-refined sugar rather than raw sugar that U.S. refiners can use.

The Commerce Department has given Mexico until June 5 to resolve the issue or face the punitive tariffs.

The ASA said in a news release on Tuesday that, “Unfortunately for American workers, Mexico’s pattern of unfair trade is not isolated to sugar. In fact, the U.S. Department of Commerce is currently enforcing 10 dumping and subsidy cases against Mexico.”

The ASA listed the following goods involved in cases against Mexico:

▪ Circular welded non-alloy steel pipe

▪ Certain magnesia carbon bricks

▪ Seamless refined copper pipe and tube

▪ Large residential clothes washers

▪ Pre-stressed concrete steel rail tiewire

▪ Steel concrete reinforcing bar

▪ Carbon steel wire rod

▪ Pre-stressed concrete steel wire strand

▪ Light-walled rectangular pipe and tube

▪ Heavy walled rectangular welded carbon steel pipes and tubes.

Meanwhile, the Coalition for Sugar Reform praised a group of senators from states with a large presence of beverage and food manufacturing companies for writing a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that they are worried the negotiations could raise sugar prices in the U.S.

“… Until now, domestic sugar growers have exerted excessive influence on the trade negotiations at the expense of manufacturers who depend upon sugar for their products…,” the senators wrote.

“Because domestic growers and refiners do not produce enough sugar to meet the demands of U.S. consumers, imports are necessary so that American-owned business can remain the competitive in the global market,” the letter said.

“The sugar-using industry employs more than 600,000 workers across the United States. These well-paying American jobs would be jeopardized by any further restrictions on sugar imports, which only advance the narrow interests of domestic growers and large sugar companies.”

In response, Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the growers, said, “U.S. sugar farmers are not asking for special treatment. We simply want U.S. trade laws to be enforced the same way they are for other industries, including food manufacturers. Let’s remember, the facts of the case are not in dispute. Mexico was found guilty of violating U.S. trade laws. The question now is whether Mexico will be required to comply with those laws.”