Members of Congress are urging President Trump to enforce laws that would prevent Mexico from dumping highly subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market and injuring U.S. sugar farmers and factories.
The letter, sent yesterday by 38 members of Congress, comes as the two nations reached an impasse this week in talks to bring Mexico into compliance. The U.S. Department of Commerce said it would take action to block subsidized Mexican sugar unless a deal could be reached by June 5.
"We urge you to continue your strong efforts to utilize the United States' antidumping and countervailing laws in response to the serious injury Mexico caused to U.S. sugar producers," lawmakers told the president.
The U.S. sugar industry generates 142,000 American jobs in 22 states, but those jobs are under threat because of Mexico's trade abuses.
Mexico, in 2013 and 2014, dumped highly subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market resulting in a $2 billion loss for the industry, the letter explained.
In 2015, the U.S. government ruled that Mexico violated U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty laws – a judgment that would have resulted in antidumping and countervailing duties of more than 80 percent.
The two governments negotiated agreements suspending those duties. The agreements were supposed to stop the damage caused by Mexico's unfair trade practices, but after two years, the DOC recognized that the agreements were not working and is trying to revise them.
The members of Congress who sent yesterday's letter noted that the American sugar industry has lost an additional $2 billion in revenues since the agreements went into effect. They explained thatsubsidized Mexican sugar has collapsed refined sugar prices, driving some U.S. farmers and producers out of business while starving U.S. sugar refineries of needed raw sugar supplies.
The last sugar mill in Hawaii closed in late 2016. Hundreds of workers lost their jobs as the industry, which had been successful on Maui for generations, closed down.
"We greatly appreciate that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has moved quickly to re-engage the Mexican government and to solve this problem under the antidumping and countervailing duty laws," Congress told the president. "We urge your continued support of Secretary Ross' efforts on behalf of the American sugar industry and of strong enforcement of our unfair trade laws."
Photo caption: Sugarcane wagons in the process of off-loading sugarcane billets at the Cora Texas Sugar Factory in White Castle, La. – Sam Irwin