Inside US Trade: House Lawmakers Push Froman To Grant More Sugar Access Under TPP

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A bipartisan group of 45 House lawmakers -- including 11 Ways & Means Committee members and two members of the Agriculture Committee -- have called on U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to further open the U.S. sugar market through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

[Reposted from Inside US Trade  |  September 30, 2015]

In a letter sent to Froman on Tuesday (Sept. 29), the eve of the TPP ministerial now taking place in Atlanta, the lawmakers point to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projections that the U.S. import needs for sugar will grow by roughly 1 million metric tons over the next 10 years.

This projected import need, the lawmakers write, "shows a need, and the space, for additional sugar imports. As a result, a significant opening of access to sugar increases competitiveness in the U.S. sugar market, improves efficiency, and reduces costs for consumers and business."

They did not specify how much additional market access USTR should grant or that Australia should be the country to supply the additional sugar. But these same projections have been cited by Australia's sugar industry, which has been pushing for a base level of increased access under TPP that could be ratcheted up depending on needs or market prices. It has floated figures as high as 750,000 metric tons as a maximum amount of access, far beyond what U.S. producers say is reasonable.

The U.S. sweetener users industry -- which drummed up support for the letter -- has also advocated for greater Australian access.

Overall, the letter borrows heavily from talking points used by candy makers and other sugar-using industries that restrictions on imports of the commodity have hurt U.S. jobs. However, it does not specifically attack the U.S. sugar program, which limits imports and domestic production in order to keep prices above the loan rate the government extends to sugar producers.

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