Secretary Ross and Secretary Guajardo Announce New Efforts to Resolve Mexican Sugar Export Issues
SECRETARY WILBUR ROSS: Good morning all.
I am very pleased to be joined today by Ildefonso Guajardo. He is the Secretary of the Economy for Mexico. I hope that this represents the beginning of a working relationship that will help bring progress and development to both our nations.
We are here today to announce a new round of negotiations on sugar imports 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.
I would also like to congratulate the Mexican sugar producers for their diligent handling of a recent issue.
They acted quickly to halt their shipments of sugar to the United States under the suspension agreements once a temporary limit was reached.
Our present discussions are the result of events that started years ago.
In April 2014, in response to petitions from the American industry, the Department of Commerce initiated antidumping and countervailing duties investigations of Mexican sugar exports.
In December 2014, we entered into a suspension agreement with the Government of Mexico and Mexican sugar producers. That agreement suspended these investigations in exchange for Mexico limiting its exports and imposing minimum prices on sugar sold to the United States.
The decision to enter into suspension agreements was a significant one and is only be taken by Commerce under certain circumstances.
Unfortunately, American stakeholders soon had to raise concerns about a shortage of raw sugar supplies and price suppression in the refined sugar market, allegedly caused by flaws in the suspension agreements.
So in February 2016, Commerce initiated an administrative review of the agreements, and in June 2016, we re-entered negotiations with the Government of Mexico and the Mexican industry, as well as the domestic sugar industry and other stakeholders, to try to reach a long-term solution.
Since the opening of the latest sugar negotiations, key issues remain unresolved, and the last round of talks between Mexican and U.S. stakeholders was in mid-December 2016.
With the deadline for the conclusion of the Department’s administrative review fast approaching, after consultations with the American sugar industry and the Government of Mexico, I can today announce an extension of the final decision date for the review from April 4th to May 1st.
This extension will allow more time for the United States and Mexico to reach a consensus on a resolution of the serious issues that have identified with the current arrangement.
We will seek a mutually beneficial, long-term, sustainable solution as our two governments closely consult over the next month and a half to address the issues that have been raised by the various stakeholders. It is my hope that this will be the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship that will strengthen our nations.
Thank you again for being here, Secretary Guajardo.
SECRETARY ILDEFONSO GUAJARDO: Thank you, Secretary Ross. Good morning to you. I really appreciate the presence of the media here this morning, members of the press. I would like first of all to thank Secretary Ross for his kind hospitality and for the productive meeting that we had yesterday. I had the opportunity to congratulate him on the occasion of his present confirmation, and wish him much success in his tenure as U.S. Secretary of Commerce. The purpose of my visit was to establish a good and open dialogue with my new colleague, my new counterpart Secretary Ross. As you know, Mexico and the United States share a very important and vibrant and complex relationship that touches upon virtually all aspects of economics. We look to deepen that cooperation in areas such as regulatory coherence, strengthening our trade remedy laws, support for small business SMEs, and definitely to promote our inter-regional trade and investment.
We also look forward to continuing with the strong private-sector engagement in forums such as the U.S.-Mexico CEO Dialogue and the very new Business Council on Energy. We remain highly committed to those forums.
I am very encouraged by Secretary Ross's commitment and interest in working with Mexico. Our conversation was very productive, and I'm confident we have areas of synergy and common interest. In the new world economy, North America faces challenges and opportunities that I do truly believe will be best served by working together. I want to reiterate to Secretary Ross my commitment towards a strong bilateral trade relationship that contributes to economic growth and job creation in Mexico and in the United States.
Secretary Ross and I had a lengthy discussion on sugar. We recognize that the sweeteners markets in North America are inexorably linked, and therefore we need to find a comprehensive solution. I also want to reiterate that Mexico has complied fully with our commitments that are described in the suspension agreement. And we also recognize that sometimes expectations are not met, given the fact that the U.S. market is very efficient in the way it uses the input. But we are willing and committed to work together to find a sustainable solution.
Mexico is open to having a very constructive dialogue to find ways to continue building a competitive North American platform, to strengthen value chains, and to modernize the disciplines that rule our trading relationship.
Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for your hospitality. I look forward to working with you in the future. Thank you.