Mexico and US engaged in bitter dispute over sugar

PUEBLA ESTATE: A looming trade conflict with the United States over sugar is threatening to disrupt the livelihood of residents in sugar cane growing regions like the central Mexican town of Atencingo.
Mexico has until June 5 to reach an agreement with Washington for its sugar exports to continue entering the US market duty-free.
Mexico exported 1.1 tonnes of sugar to the United States in 2016, according to government figures.
Sugar cane day labourers here earn between 600 and 700 pesos ($32-$38) a day, a salary that most need to support their families.
If no deal is reached their livelihoods are in danger, as US trade officials are threatening to slap tariffs of up to 80 per cent on Mexican sugar imports.
The dispute comes as the two neighbours, along with Canada, are set to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).
“They pay us 36 pesos (about $1.8) the tonne” of cut sugar cane, said day labourer Enrique Gonzalez, 31. “If you cut, you earn money,” said the soot-covered Gonzalez, as he hacked away at the cane stalks and piled them up.”If you don’t cut, you earn nothing.”
Gonzalez spoke as part of his sugar cane field was on fire.
Thick columns of smoke reached to the sky as flames destroyed the cane’s straw tops and leaves.
Machete-wielding workers like Gonzalez later enter the fields and cut down the scorched stalks, which are loaded onto trucks and driven to processing plants for pressing.
The resulting syrup is crystallised and processed into sugar.
Failure to reach an agreement would set a bitter tone ahead of Nafta renegotiation talks, likely to begin in August. — AFP

Share Button