Deadline for U.S.-Mexico sugar talks today
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross set the June 5 deadline and has also said he wants the issue resolved before the United States, Mexico and Canada begin a renegotiation of the North American American Free Trade Agreement.
On Sunday, Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, which represents U.S. cane and beet growers said in an email, "We remain hopeful that the two governments can reach an agreement that will stop the injury caused by Mexico's unfair trade practices."
Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told reporters on Thursday that there had been progress in the talks and that dialogue was continuing, but that no accord had been reached.
Juan Cortina, chairman of the Mexican Sugar Chamber, said Friday he believes there is a a "good possibility" that agreement will be reached by Monday, Politico reported on Friday.
Under NAFTA, Mexico has the right to export unlimited amounts of sugar to the U.S., but exporting subsidized sugar or dumping it in the U.S. violates other U.S. trade laws.
U.S. sugar producers brought a case to the U.S. government that Mexico was dumping subsidized sugar, and the U.S. government concluded that was the case and threatened to impose the punitive tariffs.
The countries entered into suspension agreements under which Mexico agreed to limit imports and the U.S. agreed not to impose punitive tariffs.
But U.S. growers and the cane refining industry have said the agreement is not working because Mexico has been sending semi-refined sugar rather than the raw sugar that U.S. refiners need. U.S. sweetener users have urged government negotiators not to reach an agreement that will raise the cost of sugar in the U.S., but the users also do not want the imposition of punitive tariffs that would make Mexican sugar unaffordable.
There have also been reports that if the U.S. imposes the tariffs, Mexico will retaliate by not importing U.S. high fructose corn syrup and possibly other agricultural products. ■