WASHINGTON - The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) agreed today by a 6 to 0 vote that Mexico’s sugar industry harmed American producers by dumping subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market.
The verdict means that an accord signed by the U.S. and Mexican governments to establish a needs-based trading structure and stop Mexico’s abuses will remain in effect for at least five years.
"U.S. sugar producers want NAFTA to operate as intended and to foster free and fair sugar trade between Mexico and the United States,” said Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the U.S. sugar industry. "Today’s ruling helps accomplish that goal by upholding the governments’ agreement and addressing the unfair trade practices that were injuring American farmers, workers, and taxpayers.”
Jim Simon, manager of the American Sugar Cane League, the trade group that represents the Louisiana sugarcane industry, said he was pleased with the ITC vote that confirmed Mexican sugar dumping and allows a negotiated settlement to remain in place.
"Louisiana’s sugar producers are among the most efficient in the world,” Simon said. "We’re confident that we can compete fairly on a level playing field but it’s very difficult to compete against a government that unfairly supports its sugar industry. Allowing the negotiated settlement to stand will help our farmers stay in business and produce sugar safely and efficiently.”
Simon commended Todd Landry, an Iberia Parish sugarcane farmer, for his testimony before the ITC on behalf of the entire U.S. sugarcane industry.
"Mr. Landry took the time to leave his farm and travel to Washington to testify on behalf American sugarcane farmers about how cane farmers had been negatively affected,” Simon said. "The sugarcane industry is fortunate to have farmers like Todd who will stand up for themselves.”
Hayes explained that the ITC vote, "validates the serious claims made by sugar producers when they first filed cases against Mexico in March 2014.”
The ITC and U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) launched antidumping and countervailing duty investigations into Mexico’s sugar industry shortly after the cases were brought.
The DOC inquiry concluded on Sept. 16 and found that Mexico’s sugar industry had benefitted from subsidy rates up to 44 percent and had shipped sugar to the United States at dumping margins of more than 42 percent. The ITC finished its examination today, ruling that these actions materially injured U.S. interests.
PHOTO: Iberian Parish sugarcane farmer Ricky Gonsoulin harvests cane Oct. 5, the first day of the Louisiana sugarcane harvesting season. Photo by Sam Irwin