By Adriana Barrera / Reuters
Anger is simmering across a lush swath of Mexico among poor sugar-cane farmers who face a major blow from trade talks in Washington on Monday, in an ominous preview of the high-stakes renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement set to begin in August.
The United States and Mexico have until today, Monday, to modify a 2014 agreement that set quotas and a price floor on Mexican sugar. U.S. sugar refiners say Mexico’s exports are subsidized, undercutting their business and that the agreement failed to stop dumping.
A new deal could significantly reduce access to the lucrative U.S. market for some 190,000 Mexican farmers, a fifth of whose sugar last year was sold to U.S. buyers, and risks triggering tit-for-tat tariffs that could hurt U.S. corn.
With 2.4 million people estimated to earn livelihoods from sugar across 15 states in Mexico, the spat may also serve as an example of the political minefield the government will face in a broader trade talks later this year, which could affect jobs in the thriving manufacturing sector.