17 March 1998
Mexico wants talks over US sugar sanctions

By FWi staff

MEXICO has demanded an explanation after it was left off a long list of countries entitled to export extra sugar to the USA.

The unusual step follows the abandonment of formal talks with the United States last week. The talks failed because the two countries were unable settle differences over sugar export arrangements contained in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

US officials maintain that Mexico was left off the list because it has ratified anti-dumping duties on imports of high-fructose American corn syrup. The US Government is considering taking the issue to the World Trade Organisation.

But Mexico claims that the NAFTA definition of what constitutes sugar is confused. Sweeteners such as corn syrup are not covered by the treaty, the Mexicans say.

The Mexican interpretation suggests the country could have limitless duty-free access to the US market under certain conditions from 2001. But the USA wants duty-free exports limited to 250,000 tons a year until 2009.