Ross: Mexico Sugar Deal Paves Way for NAFTA Changes
In an interview yesterday on FOX Business Network’s Mornings with Maria, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said, of the US-Mexico sugar deal announced Tuesday, “We thought it was a very good idea to try to get it out of the way so that we could get on with the much bigger parts of NAFTA that need changing.”
Ross added that the sugar issue between the United States and Mexico “has been a very nettlesome, very aggravating factor for quite some little while.”
The US-Mexico agreement in principle settles a case dating to 2014 in which US sugar producers have alleged that Mexican growers and refiners have dumped their products in the US and have been subsidized by the Mexican government. The deal raises the prices of raw and refined sugar entering the US from Mexico; enhances enforcement and increases penalties on Mexico for violations; and gave Mexico the right of first refusal to supply 100 percent of any “additional need” for sugar identified by the US Department of Agriculture.
The last provision drew the ire of US sugar producers, who say it containers a loophole which would allow Mexico to continue too dump sugar in the US.
In the Fox interview, Ross denied the agreement would cause a spike in the cost of sugar, describing the price adjustments in the agreement as “smallish changes.” “The major part [of the agreement],” said Ross, “is that there will be a much higher percentage of raw sugar available to the United States refiners and, therefore, they will be able to do better…”
As far as renegotiating NAFTA goes, Ross said that procedure calls for renewed negotiations to start not before mid-August. A month before that, he added, the administration will “discuss with the congressional committees a much more precise set of negotiating principles than we had discussed with them so far.”