Top U.S. official urges deal to resolve U.S.-Mexico sugar row

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Monday he hoped to head off a protracted trade dispute with Mexico over sugar imports by encouraging a negotiated agreement rather than duties on imported sugar.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Mexico City, Vilsack said he was working to avoid duties almost two months after U.S. producers accused Mexican mills of dumping sweetener in the country.

"We are in the process of encouraging ... folks to figure out a way forward that allows a suspension agreement to take place," Vilsack said.

His comments are the strongest sign yet that the U.S. government wants to work toward a settlement after U.S. trade regulators earlier this month voted to investigate the allegations filed at the end of March.

Many traders fear the complaint could escalate into a broader trade dispute, with Mexico retaliating in other commodities such as high-fructose corn syrup or soybeans, major exports to the United States.

"I think it reflects Secretary Vilsack's well-founded concerns about a trade war with Mexico," said Greenberg Traurig lawyer Irwin Altschuler, who is representing Mexican sugar producers in the case.

Vilsack, who told a House Agriculture Committee hearing on April 3 the complaint was "ill-timed", stressed that U.S. sugar producers would need to support a negotiated agreement and said they were being urged to do so.

"We'll do everything we can to facilitate conversation, facilitate a resolution," Vilsack said. The American Sugar Alliance had no comment.

The Commerce Department is due to make a preliminary decision on potential anti-dumping and countervailing duties in June. A suspension agreement would only be negotiated if the agency rules imports are being sold too cheaply and recommends duties.

"If (the ruling) is affirmative with a big number, there's an incentive for Mexico to settle, and if it's affirmative with a small number, that's a sign to the U.S. that they could try to get a better deal," said National Foreign Trade Council President Bill Reinsch.

"Basically it amounts to a price agreement: the Mexicans agree to raise prices and the U.S. agrees to suspend the investigation."

An agreement could also impose a ceiling on Mexican sugar imports, which are currently unrestricted. Uncertainty about the case is already driving up prices.

"The threat of not having (Mexican) supplies because of a duty, as well as smaller crops in North America - all of this is leading to higher prices," said Kevin Combs, partner with sugar brokerage McKeany-Flavell in Oakland, California.

A Department of Commerce official said the agency would carefully consider any proposal for a suspension agreement.

"Such an analysis would, of course, take into account the views of all parties to the investigations, including the domestic producers who filed the petitions," the official said.

Vilsack said talks about an agreement, which include officials in his department, were still at a "very preliminary" stage.

Mexico's economy minister said his country remains open to dialog, but would defend domestic sugar producers.

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...

Comments (0) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

Grain Storage Systems

Behlen Grain Storage Systems offers large capacity bins with diameters from 16’ to 157’ and capacities exceeding 1,500,000 bushels. All ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form