US sugar industry announces support for trade deal with Mexico

US sugar industry announces support for trade deal with Mexico
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The U.S. sugar industry on Thursday announced support for a tweaked trade deal with Mexico after initially opposing the long-awaited agreement.

The American Sugar Alliance, which represents sugar farmers and producers, told the Commerce Department that it will back the “tightened” deal aimed at bringing Mexico’s sugar industry into compliance with U.S. law.

"We've had productive conversations with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over the past week, and we recognize that he is 100 percent dedicated to ending the job loss and injury caused by Mexico's predatory trade practices," said Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, in a statement. 


The group didn’t provide details as to what changes satisfied their earlier concerns although they highlighted stronger enforcement of the new deal.

The industry had withheld support after Ross and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo announced an agreement in principle last week that would suspend antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on sugar from Mexico.

“I am glad all parties have agreed that the new sugar agreement is fair and addresses the shortcomings of the original deal,” Ross said in a statement. 

Hayes said the group received assurances from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue that he will “manage U.S. sugar policy effectively and ensure Mexico doesn't continue to wreck the market with unfair trade.”

"For too long, Mexico was allowed to sidestep our trade laws but those days are over,” Hayes said.

U.S. sugar producers estimate they have lost more than $4 billion because Mexico has been flooding the market with subsidized sugar.

The sugar industry has been pressing for a new agreement after they say a 2014 deal failed to rein in Mexico's trade violations.

"It's important that the suspension agreements work as intended this time to completely eliminate the injurious effects of dumped and subsidized sugar from Mexico and support the operation of U.S. sugar policy," Hayes said.

Commerce announced Wednesday that it is accepting comments on the draft amendments of the deal through June 21 with rebuttal comments due on June 26.  

The final agreement is expected to be signed by June 30, Commerce said.