A.B.A. again voices opposition to U.S., Mexico sugar agreement

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — A few weeks after saying it was still reviewing the specifics of the agreement, the American Bakers Association on Nov. 18 said it opposes the agreement made between the U.S. and Mexican governments to manage sugar imports.  

“Any further controls placed on sugar supplies are not good for bakers or all other sugar users,” said Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the A.B.A. “Apparently an 85% monopoly in the U.S. sugar market is not enough for domestic sugar producers. Their motives are simple — to create a 100% monopoly on sugar supplies in the U.S. It is a shame the federal government is such an enabler of this grab.”

The United States and Mexico on Oct. 27 agreed to avoid antidumping and countervailing duties on U.S. sugar imports from Mexico. The deal includes minimum prices for raw and refined sugar imports as well as volume and timing restrictions.

The draft agreement sets the minimum price for refined sugar imports from Mexico at 23.57c a lb and for raw sugar imports at 20.75c a lb. The deal also limits the amount of refined sugar imports and provides for timing of imports. As a result, preliminary duties will be suspended.

“These restrictions will cost sugar users billions over the coming years,” said Cory Martin, director of government relations for the A.B.A. “The suspension agreement curiously follows the flawed import policies prescribed by the sugar program, strictly controlling Mexico’s ability to fulfill U.S. sugar demand, especially in the early months of the sugar marketing year. This leaves bakers, food manufacturers and consumers to face potential shortages for decades to come. It’s a lose/lose situation for everyone except big sugar.

“The good news is that with a new Congress starting next year, the chances for reforming the current sugar program only increase. It’s only a matter of time before Congress sees through the sham that is current U.S. sugar policy.”
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