US, Mexico strike sugar deal ahead of NAFTA talks


The U.S. imposed the tariffs in 2014, but Mexican and U.S. officials reached what are called "suspension agreements" to avoid the tariffs stemming from cases the U.S. sugar industry had brought to the U.S. government. The latest talks began in March, two months after President Donald Trump took office vowing a tougher line on trade to protect US industry and jobs.

The May meeting was held to emphasize that failure to reach a deal could threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs in sugar-using industries, said Bill O'Connor of the Sweetener Users Association, who attended the meeting.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said negotiations were extended Monday by an extra 24 hours in order to complete "final technical consultations".

An agreement in Washington would end a year of wrangling over Mexican sugar exports.

Other issues to be addressed include how removing remaining tariffs would affect USA producers, handling non-tariff barriers, customs and trade facilitation, any "unwarranted" sanitary and phytosanitary measures imposed by Mexico and Canada, issues related to government procurement and much more. We also achieved better pricing agreements for the industry.

Corn refiners including Archer Daniels Midland Co, Cargill Inc, Corn Products International Inc and Tate & Lyle Plc would be affected if a final deal is not reached and Mexico resorted to retaliatory tariffs against fructose syrup.

Negotiations over US and Mexico sugar trade go into overtime after a provisional deal gets struck down.

If a deal is not reached, and the USA imposes tariffs, Mexico has threatened retaliation, with corn syrup seen as a likely target. Formal talks are expected to begin as early as August 16, after the USA consults with lawmakers.

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"Unfortunately, despite all of these gains, the USA sugar industry has said it is unable to support the agreement in its present form", Ross said without elaborating on their objections.

Cooler heads prevailed in heated trade talks between the US and Mexico - for now.

"Probably by that time we will be announcing that we have made an agreement", Guajardo said in an interview with the television network.

ASR Group declined to comment on its involvement in the talks.

ASR and fellow cane refiner Imperial Sugar, owned by commodities firm Louis Dreyfus Company BV, have said they are being starved of raw supplies under the current deal.

He said Mexico met almost every request by the US sugar industry to fix problems with a 2014 sugar trade agreement.

Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, rejected the assertion and said: "Mexico's predatory trade practices have grossly distorted the domestic sugar market".