A bipartisan group of 17 senators, led by Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., urged Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker not to impose import quotas on Mexican sugar through a suspension agreement aimed at resolving U.S. sugar producers’ antidumping and countervailing duty petitions against Mexico’s sugar industry.
The senators warned that agreement will raise sugar prices in the United States, risk jobs and strain U.S.-Mexico trade relations.
“Such a suspension agreement will violate our nation’s commitment to free and open trade with Mexico, threaten the viability of American food manufacturers and raise food prices for American families,” the senators wrote in a July 29 letter
The senators noted in 2013 global sugar prices fell drastically, and in the United States, prices fell below minimum levels guaranteed by the Department of Agriculture. “This resulted in $258 million in federal payouts to the sugar industry at taxpayer expense, as a result of the failed federal sugar program. Mexican growers are being blamed for the decline in U.S. prices, but Mexican sugar does not threaten our domestic industry,” the senators said.
For years, Shaheen and Toomey, along with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., have led a bipartisan effort to reform the United States’ sugar program, which has cost consumers and businesses an estimated $14 billion since 2008 and led to a $250 million taxpayer-funded sugar industry bailout last year.
The Coalition for Sugar Reform, which 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, applauded the lawmakers’ efforts.