Mexican sugar ruling gets praise _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Sugar cane is harvested from a field along last year in Youngsville. The U.S. Commerce Department issued a prelimary finding Tuesday that the Mexican government illegally subsidized sugar exported to the United States.

Representatives of the Louisiana sugar cane industry and elected officials praised a preliminary finding of the U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday that the Mexican government illegally subsidized sugar exported to the United States.

As a result of the preliminary ruling, a duty deposit will be collected on sugar imports from Mexico until the government can complete its investigation and make a final determination in the case, which is expected to happen in early 2015. A 17.01 percent duty deposit will be imposed on sugar imported from mills operated by the Mexican government. Sugar produced by the Mexican company GAM will see a 2.99 percent duty deposit and all other Mexican sugar will be subject to a 14.87 percent duty deposit.

Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, said the ruling validates the organization’s claim that Mexican sugar dumping is harming U.S. sugar producers and workers.

“The preliminary duties are important and we fully expect the final countervailing duties to be higher,” Hayes said.

According to Reuters, the additional duties mean that U.S. sweetener makers will have to pay about 5 cents a pound more for imported sugar.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who urged an investigation into the sugar dumping, arguing that it cost the American sugar industry an estimated $1 billion in lost income during the past growing season, said she was pleased with the ruling. “Our sugar producers deserve a fair and level playing field and that cannot happen if Mexican producers are allowed to illegally receive government subsidies for sugar they export into the U.S. market,” Landrieu said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, who is running against Landrieu, also said he supported the ruling. “Unfair trading practices have the ability to threaten thousands of jobs in Louisiana,” Cassidy said.

“As the second-largest producer of sugar cane in the U.S., it is imperative that we protect Louisiana farmers from illegal sugar dumping. The duties imposed on Mexico are necessary to ensure that the market is fair and that these jobs are protected,” Cassidy said.

Landrieu warned that Mexican sugar producers “will pay a steep price” to cover the losses sustained by Louisiana sugar cane farmers and to act as a deterrent for future cases.

“Our sugar producers work too hard and are too important to our economy to let illegal dumping go unpunished,” she said.