July 02, 2015

WASHINGTON (DC) – The “Coalition for Sugar Reform” urges the United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman, to seek significantly expanded imports of sugar in reaching a comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The Coalition, that includes several associations of confectioners, bakers, dairy and snack foods as well as business groups, wrote a strongly worded letter to the top US trade official to ease sugar import restrictions faced by consumers and food companies. In particular, the group identifies Canada and Australia among the 12 TPP countries as important suppliers to the US sugar market.

The US sugar program guarantees US producers high prices, well above world prices.  To maintain high prices, the US government maintains restrictive quotas and tariffs on refined sugar and sugar-containing products.  The NAFTA did not liberalize these restrictions for Canada so the TPP negotiations represent the first opportunity in over 2 decades to create commercially meaningful export opportunity for Canadian exporters of these products. 

Also see: Froman Signals Willingness To Make Concessions On Sugar In TPP, July 7, 2015

Below is the text of the letter from the Coalition for Sugar Reform to the US Trade Representative:

 

July 2, 2015
The Honorable Michael Froman
United States Trade Representative
Winder Building
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20508

 

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations move toward the final stages of completion, we write to encourage you to reach a comprehensive agreement that significantly expands U.S. imports of sugar, which are needed in our domestic market.

Consumers and food companies currently face severe restrictions on both domestic sugar production and imports that insulate U.S. sugar producers almost entirely from normal market pressures. This system guarantees sugar companies many years of excessively high prices, at times nearly twice the world price, and has cost American consumers and businesses an estimated $15 billion since 2008 alone in artificially inflated prices. Tight domestic sugar supplies can be expected for the next several years, unless we allow commercially meaningful access to TPP countries that have the ability to supply the U.S. market.

Overly protective treatment of sugar producers has widespread negative effects on our economy. We’ve lost more than 120,000 jobs in sugar-using industries since 1997, and denial of real access to our TPP trading partners leaves us vulnerable to other countries’ refusals to open markets to valuable American agricultural commodities. This self-imposed handicap also stifles our progress on other significant trade priorities and prevents much-needed opportunities for critical American industries to grow their exports.

We urge you to resist calls to maintain unnecessary trade protections for a small special interest group of sugar producers and processors. Loosening the current excessive restrictions on sugar imports would have far-reaching benefits to our economy as a whole. Allowing commercially significant access to the U.S. sugar market for our TPP negotiating partners, including Australia and Canada, will encourage reciprocal market access abroad for many other American commodities and services.

We appreciate your efforts and the work of your trade team in obtaining a balanced TPP agreement, and providing additional sugar market access is a key ingredient for achieving that objective.

Sincerely,

Coalition for Sugar Reform

American Bakers Association
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Emergency Committee for American Trade
Independent Bakers Association
International Dairy Foods Association
National Association of Manufacturers
National Confectioners Association
National Foreign Trade Council
Retail Confectioners International
Snack Food Association
Sweetener Users Association
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

See: Sweetener Users Association, Washington DC.