February 27, 2018 / 7:25 PM / a year ago

Mexico sugar industry not worried by U.S. trade deal review

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The Mexican sugar industry is not “overly concerned” that U.S. refiners have asked for a review of its compliance with a sugar trade deal, the head of Mexico’s sugar chamber, Juan Cortina, said on Tuesday.

The U.S. government is reviewing a trade deal that prevents large duties from being slapped onto imports of sugar from Mexico, according to documents filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

It was not immediately clear if that was the review referred to by Cortina.

“It’s going to be reviewed in order to make sure Mexico is complying with the terms, which we’ve done,” Cortina said, using the Spanish word “revisar.”

A spokesman for the coalition of U.S. sugar farmers and companies said the group is not looking for changes to the pact.

The American Sugar Coalition “only wants the Commerce Department to verify that the rules are being complied with,” spokesman Phillip Hayes said in an emailed statement.

The latest sugar deal, agreed last June just before the United States, Mexico and Canada sat down to tricky renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), sought to resolve a years-long dispute between the governments. [nL1N1JV03W]

A U.S. sugar industry coalition, which in 2014 petitioned the government for protection from cheap, subsidized imports from Mexico, requested in late December that the Department of Commerce review the latest pact.

The Mexican Sugar Chamber, in documents filed with the U.S. government, has said the review is premature. Reviews are conducted regularly to ensure that restrictions on imports are being followed and that they are working as intended for the domestic industry.

Mexico made concessions to the U.S. sugar industry to reach a deal, eager to avoid a stand-off before the NAFTA talks kicked off. Negotiators from the three NAFTA countries are currently in Mexico City for a seventh round of talks. [nL2N1QF0A3]

Time is running out to agree a new NAFTA deal before a Mexican presidential vote and U.S. mid-term congressional elections later this year. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has put forward a radical set of proposals that has complicated the progress.

Reporting by Adriana Barrera in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Chris Prentice in New York; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Leslie Adler

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