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Congress Asks Commerce to Consider U.S. Impact of Increasing Tariffs on Mexican Sugar

May 22, 2017

The Coalition for Sugar Reform, of which IDFA is a member, last week commended a bipartisan group of 51 members of the U.S. House of Representatives for urging the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to consider how the outcome of U.S.-Mexico sugar negotiations will affect consumer prices and American manufacturing jobs in the food and beverage industry.

Earlier this month, the department declared that it had reached ‘an impasse’ in talks with Mexico on sugar trade disputes and would resume the collection of antidumping and countervailing duties on sugar imports starting June 5, 2017, unless an agreement is reached by then. In a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the policymakers expressed concern that an increase in the tariffs on imported sugar would increase the price of food for American consumers. 

The letter, spearheaded by Reps. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Danny Davis (D-IL), also called for “workable, fair” suspension agreements and noted that proposals that have been made by the U.S. sugar lobby would make the agreements far worse.

“While a higher level of raw sugar should be required in the agreements, this must be done without the government picking winners and losers among private companies, so an improved set of agreements should ensure fair competition and not effectively limit shipments to only certain cane refineries,” the legislators said in the letter.

“The 2014 farm bill established price support levels for both raw and refined sugar, and Congress has taken no action to authorize the administration to increase these support levels, so improved suspension agreements should avoid any reference prices that effectively support U.S. sugar prices significantly above levels debated and approved by Congress, and in no case should reference prices be increased from their levels in the existing suspension agreements,” they added.

The full text of the letter is available here.

The United States is a net importer of sugar, and until the U.S. sugar industry filed anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases in February 2014, there had been free trade in sugar between the United States and Mexico since early 2008. Mexico has become an integral part of the North American sugar trade and is a critical supplier of sugar to the United States.

The Coalition for Sugar Reform represents consumer, trade and commerce groups; manufacturing associations; and food and beverage companies that use sugar, including confectioners, bakers, cereal manufacturers, beverage makers and dairy companies, as well as the trade associations for these industries. IDFA and other coalition members continue to urge Commerce to overhaul the suspension agreements to encourage a competitive marketplace and support U.S. manufacturers and the hundreds of thousands of people they employ in every state.

For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at

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