A years-long fight with Mexico over illegal dumping of cheap, subsidized sugar on the U.S. market is emerging as a major issue as the United States looks to tackle a rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
"What I was hearing on Capitol Hill … is this sugar issue is going to be front and center, and we must resolve it before we can renegotiate a full NAFTA deal," Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said. "I do understand that they were close to a settlement agreement just a few days ago, and I think that the negotiations are back in earnest, and I think that’s what’s got to happen."
If the two countries can't iron out their differences, the U.S. will reinstate an 80 percent tariff on Mexican sugar imports, and that could trigger a cycle of trade retaliation, Strain said. The good news is that Strain believes both countries can resolve their sugar dispute. The bad news is they have only about two weeks to do so. The 80 percent tariff is set to kick in on June 5.
Photo by Sam Irwin