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MEXICO CITY, May 4 (Reuters) - Mexican sugar producers could ask the government to seek trade sanctions or launch an anti-dumping probe into U.S. high-fructose corn syrup if no sugar trade deal is reached, Mexico’s sugar chamber president said on Thursday.
Speaking on local radio, Juan Cortina, the President of the National Chamber of the Sugar and Alcohol Industries, said sugar producers could ask Mexico to impose reprisal measures on par with a recent ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in a dispute between Mexico and the United States over tuna fish.
“The strategy that we are going to follow, if we can’t reach a deal with the United States, is to seek a dumping investigation against fructose,” he said. “We are going urge the government...to take advantage of what they got last week on tuna,” he said.
A WTO arbitrator ruled in late April that Mexico could impose annual trade sanctions of $163.23 million against the United States after winning a dispute over trade in tuna fish.
Mexico’s complaint focused on U.S. rules on “dolphin friendly” labeling, which Mexico said unfairly penalized its fishing industry.
U.S.-Mexican trade relations are already under strain, as U.S. President Donald Trump seeks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement pact that has defined continental commerce for a generation and after his vow to build a border wall between the countries at Mexico’s cost.
A deepening rift over sugar threatens to fan tensions.
The American sugar industry pressed the U.S. Commerce Department late last year to withdraw from a 2014 trade agreement that sets prices and quotas for U.S. imports of Mexican sugar unless the deal could be renegotiated.
This week, the Mexican and U.S. governments said they had agreed to extend the deadline for negotiations to June 5, with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross saying the talks were “at an impasse.”
Ross said the United States intended to resume the collection of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on sugar imports starting June 5 unless an agreement is reached. (Reporting by Adriana Barrera and Alexandra Alper; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)