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NFTC Urges Senate to Reform U.S. Sugar Program in 2012 Farm Bill Debate
Date: 6/5/2012

Washington, DC – The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) has sent a letter to all Senators, urging them to support reform of U.S. sugar policy during consideration of the 2012 Farm Bill. Citing how the current protectionist policy restricts imports of sugar and negatively impacts U.S. trade relations, NFTC President Bill Reinsch called on Senators to support an amendment to reform U.S. sugar policy when the Farm Bill comes to the Senate floor for a vote.

Reinsch wrote:

In its current form, the sugar program sets artificially low import quotas and applies high tariffs on imports exceeding those limits. These restrictions increase the cost to American consumers and producers of sugar-containing products. In 2000, the General Accounting Office estimated that the sugar program cost American refiners, consumers and manufacturers approximately $1.9 billion each year, and a more recent study by Iowa State researchers now pegs the cost at up to $3.5 billion annually.

“Equally important, maintaining these restrictions carries a high price in our trade negotiations. They bind the hands of our trade negotiators and place them at disadvantage with our foreign counterparts in the negotiating process. The result has often led to less market access for other U.S. agricultural goods such as beef, rice and soybeans, as well as countries excluding sensitive markets entirely in trade negotiations. The result of U.S. exclusion of sugar in the US-Australia FTA, for example, encouraged Korean insistence on exclusion of rice in its FTA with the U.S.

“We believe that the continuous practice of protectionist policies by the United States with regard to the current sugar program conflicts with our national goals of export promotion and an open rules-based trading system. As the United States moves forward in efforts to expand and penetrate in new markets it is vital that the U.S. re-examine its protectionist policies toward sugar. We urge you to support the amendment to the farm bill that would begin that process.”

As a member of the Coalition for Sugar Reform, the NFTC also signed onto a letter sent by the coalition to all Senators, urging them to support a sugar reform amendment.