WASHINGTON – The United States and Mexico will launch a new round of negotiations to resolve a years-long trade dispute over Mexico’s sugar exports to the United States, senior officials in both governments said on Friday.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo said that the talks would be aimed at resuming Mexican imports to the United States after they had been halted earlier this week as Mexico reached a temporary limit on sugar exports to the United States.
“These discussions are the beginning of our work together on the day-to-day issues that arise from our very important bilateral relationship,” Ross told a news conference.
The U.S. sugar quotas are set under a 2014 trade pact that has become a source of tension between the two countries. The deal ended a year-long investigation by the U.S. government after domestic farmers and sugar companies said Mexican millers were flooding the market with cheap, subsidized sugar.
Ross said the Commerce Department pushed back an April 4 deadline for completing a review of the trade pact until May 1, to allow more time to reach a resolution that suits both countries. The government said in November that a preliminary review indicated the deal may not be working.
The two countries have been in ongoing negotiations to rework the agreements since 2016, under pressure from the U.S. industry. Those discussions were slowed amid the transition to a new administration under President Donald Trump.
Earlier this week, Reuters learned that Mexico had canceled export licenses, at a time of tightening cane supplies for U.S. refiners, who have said that Mexico’s mills are circumventing them to sell refined sugar into the U.S. market.
The U.S. sugar industry has asked the government to cancel the 2014 pact unless it can be renegotiated. The country’s cane refiners have said that Mexican suppliers are continuing to circumvent them to sell refined sugar, starving them of raw supplies.