(Adds late Monday statement from U.S. Commerce Secretary)
MEXICO CITY/WASHINGTON May 2 The Mexican and
U.S. governments have agreed to extend the deadline for
negotiations over a sugar trade agreement to June 5, with U.S.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross saying late Monday the talks were
"at an impasse."
In a statement, Ross said the Commerce Department notified
Mexico's government that the United States intended to resume
collection of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on sugar
imports starting June 5 unless an agreement is reached.
"While I regret that such measures were needed, it is my
hope that Mexico and the United States can reach a fair
agreement before June," Ross said.
The orders were suspended, pending negotiations as a May 1
Mexico's economy ministry, the country's top trade
authority, weighed in late Monday with a statement that put the
blame for the impasse squarely on the U.S. side.
"Excessive demands from U.S. producers and refiners have
impeded the ability to reach a solution," the ministry said,
adding that U.S. negotiators continued to press for limits on
Mexican raw sugar exports for U.S. refiners as well as ending
"all competition" from Mexican refined sugar in the U.S. market.
The ministry said however it remained open to reaching a
The U.S. sugar industry pressed the Commerce Department late
last year to withdraw from a 2014 trade agreement that sets
prices and quota for U.S. imports of Mexican sugar unless the
deal could be renegotiated.
A letter on Monday was sent by Ronald Lorentzen, acting
assistant secretary for enforcement and compliance with the
Commerce Department, to Juan Cortina Gallardo, president of
Mexico's sugar chamber.
"... Despite everyone's best efforts and numerous meetings,
there remain outstanding issues between the parties," Lorentzen
wrote, adding that the agreement will be terminated if a new one
cannot be reached by June 5.
A termination would result in large anti-dumping tariffs
being slapped on sugar imports from Mexico.
The latest twist in the sugar trade dispute between Mexico
and the United States comes as ties between the two nations have
frayed under U.S. President Donald Trump, who took office in
January. Trump wants to revise the North American Free Trade
Agreement with Mexico and Canada to better serve U.S. workers
Mexico is the top foreign supplier of sugar to the United
States, a coveted market of 12 million tons where the U.S.
government gives export quotas to about 40 sugar-producing
countries each year through trade programs.
Mexico is due to ship about one-third of U.S. imported
supplies this year.
(Reporting by Adriana Barrera and David Alire Garcia in Mexico
City; Additional reporting by David Lawder in Washington and
Chris Prentice in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jeffrey