The Sweetener Users Association (SUA) on Oct. 28 released the following statement on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s announcement that it has initialed draft agreements with the Mexican government and Mexican sugar exporters, which if adopted, would suspend the antidumping and countervailing duty investigations of Mexican sugar imports.

“We are deeply concerned about the implications of the proposed suspension agreements for the U.S. sugar market, American consumers and manufacturers. The uncertainty surrounding the antidumping and countervailing duty petitions filed by U.S. sugar producers has already driven up U.S. sugar prices – costing consumers an additional $837 million since April and jeopardizing thousands of American manufacturing jobs in the process.

“If the draft agreements between the United States and Mexico are adopted, we can expect the same market uncertainty that is causing unduly high U.S. sugar prices now. That uncertainty will mean American consumers and U.S. sweetener users, including food and beverage manufacturers, will be forced to spend more for sugar. 

“While we are reviewing the details of the agreements to evaluate their full impact, at this stage we caution all parties and both governments to consider the ramifications of entering into a managed trade agreement on sugar. 

“In recent years, the United States has imported 2 to 2.1 million tons of sugar from Mexico, and as part of both governments’ commitments under the North American Free Trade Agreement, there has been free trade in sugar since early 2008. Entering into a managed trade agreement would not only set a bad precedent for our bilateral trade relationship, it would move America’s already protectionist sugar policy in the wrong direction, farther away from a free market approach.

“The U.S. sugar program, which the U.S. sugar lobby has engineered, is already characterized by tight government-imposed limits on both imported and domestic sugar supplies – distorting the market and leading to severe fluctuations in supply and price. Contrary to the U.S. sugar producers’ claims, further restricting imports would be detrimental to the U.S. sugar-using industry, and ultimately all American consumers.”