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Revised U.S.-Mexico sugar trade agreement working well

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By: Ron Sterk

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Speakers at the final session of the 36th annual International Sweetener Symposium, sponsored by the American Sugar Alliance, agreed that the U.S.-Mexico suspension agreements that control U.S. imports of sugar from Mexico were working well.

Mexico will honor its U.S. export limit and the additional export amount added in June, Humberto Jasso, executive president of the Mexican Sugar Chamber, said at the symposium Aug. 7.

Mexico’s sugar production was the second largest on record in 2018-19 at 4.25 million tonnes, Mr. Jasso said, and required the export of a record 1,595,000 tonnes to non-U.S. destinations because of lower requirements from the United States and lower sugar and total sweetener consumption in Mexico. He said Mexico was working on an ethanol program to use surplus sugar production.

Mexico had shipped 719,254 tonnes, or 88.6%, of its 811,513-tonne quota as of July, and had shipped 12,835 tonnes, or 14.1%, of the additional quota of 90,718 tonnes added in June. Mexico intended to fulfill all of its U.S. quota, Mr. Jasso said.

There are no issues with the operation of the suspension agreement, he said, expressing appreciation to the United States for the additional 90,718 tonnes added to this year’s quota.

The suspension agreements were signed by both countries in 2014, then amended in 2017. A five-year sunset review of the documents by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission will begin in December 2019, based on the date of the original agreements, with findings released by December 2020, said Robert Cassidy, partner, Cassidy, Levy Kent LLP, Washington, who moderated the final panel with Mr. Jasso and Bill Smith, president and chief executive officer, National Sugar Marketing L.L.C., Atlanta.

“The suspension agreement, in our mind, is working and working well,” Mr. Smith said, noting that the agreements contributed needed stability to the U.S. sugar market.