How U.S. Settles Sugar Dispute With Mexico Could Signal Nafta Intent – By Anthony Harrup in Mexico City and Julie Wernau in New York May 19, 2017 5:30 a.m. ET


U.S. is looking to reinstate anti-dumping and antisubsidy duties on imports of Mexican sugar

The U.S. and Mexico have to reach an agreement by June 5 on a longstanding dispute over sugar.

The U.S. and Mexico have to reach an agreement by June 5 on a longstanding dispute over sugar. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Image

As the Trump administration sets the clock running for a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a deadline is fast approaching in a longstanding dispute with Mexico over sugar that some see as a harbinger of how those broader talks could play out.

Unless the two sides reach agreement by June 5, the U.S. Department of Commerce will reinstate anti-dumping and antisubsidy duties on imports of Mexican sugar, risking a backlash from Mexico which denies that it subsidizes or dumps sugar in the U.S.

The duties were suspended in 2014 under agreements that limited imports and set minimum prices, but U.S. sugar producers say Mexican sugar is continuing to hurt their industry.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo discussed the matter this week with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, but declined to give details of the talks. “We’re advancing in that process and we think if we continue like that we’ll be able, before two weeks are up, to narrow our differences,” he told reporters.

Freight trucks from Mexico go through customs at Otay Mesa port of entry, in San Diego.

Freight trucks from Mexico go through customs at Otay Mesa port of entry, in San Diego. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on Thursday notified Congress that it intends to renegotiate Nafta with Mexico and Canada, setting in motion a 90-day consultation period for the negotiations to begin. Some see the handling of the sugar dispute as a dress rehearsal.

“I think the sugar situation is like a preamble, a starting point for entering the Nafta negotiations,” said Carlos Blackaller, head of Mexico’s sugar cane growers’ union which represents some 180,000 cane producers in 15 Mexican states. “If our government accepts conditions, it would lose ability in those negotiations.”

Mexican producers say that if they are locked out of the U.S. market, they will seek actions against imports of U.S. high fructose corn syrup. U.S. corn refiners, who battled for years in the late 1990s and early 2000s over access to the Mexican market for HFCS, are concerned about fallout from a renewed trade spat in sweeteners.

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The Final Days Of Hawaiian Sugar – Molly Solomon/Hawaii Public Radio December 17, 2016 9:00 AM


Fermin Domingo, 61, worked at HC&S for 40 years. He drove in the last truck hauler of sugar cane on the plantation's final day. Molly Solomon/Hawaii Public Radio

Fermin Domingo, 61, worked at HC&S for 40 years. He drove in the last truck hauler of sugar cane on the plantation’s final day.
Molly Solomon/Hawaii Public Radio

Fermin Domingo, 61, worked at HC&S for 40 years. He drove in the last truck hauler of sugar cane on the plantation’s final day.

Molly Solomon/Hawaii Public Radio

Fermin Domingo, 61, climbs up the side of a sugar cane hauler for the last time. The haul truck driver has worked at Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) company for the past 40 years, harvesting and hauling sugar cane to the mill. This is the last of Hawaii’s sugar mills, and it too, is closing. Domingo and hundreds of other co-workers have gathered to wrap up the final harvest and say goodbye to a crop that shaped the islands.

Domingo fires up the engine and the truck slowly rumbles toward the mill, its tires churning through thick mud. It stops at the base of a conveyor belt and a giant crane hooks the final load of Maui sugar cane. Cheers break out from the hundreds of workers standing nearby. “I came here when I was 18 from the Philippines,” says Domingo. “I joined the company and I started harvesting. It was fun working out there, but we’re at the end and I don’t know what to do later.”

Workers at the mill look on as the last piece of the final harvest drives up to the factory to be processed.

For over a century, the sugar industry dominated Hawaii’s economy. But that changed in recent decades as the industry struggled to keep up with the mechanization in mills on mainland U.S. That and rising labor costs have caused Hawaii’s sugar mills to shut down, shrinking the industry to this one last mill.

Bill Cavilla is one of 675 workers who will lose their jobs once this operation closes by the end of the year. “It’s just an emotional thing,” he says. “Just realizing it’s going to end.”

The sugar mill started harvesting cane on Maui 145 years ago, around the time sugarcane plantations began taking over the islands’ landscapes when the Civil War cut off sugar supplies from the south. Then, in the 1870s, the U.S. signed a “reciprocity treaty” with the Kingdom of Hawaii. The United States agreed to cut tariffs on Hawaiian sugar and rice, in exchange for Hawaii cutting tariffs on imported cotton and other American products.

The spread of sugarcane plantations on the islands brought immigrant labor in waves from China, Japan and the Philippines. A smaller number of people also came from Portugal, Puerto Rico, Scotland and Germany. That immigration laid the foundation for the multicultural population of today’s Hawaii.

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The FDA just made the most significant changes to the nutrition label in years – Updated by Julia Belluz on May 20, 2016, 11:02 a.m. ET


Bryan Solomon/Shutterstock

Bryan Solomon/Shutterstock

Trying to understand how healthy your food is by reading the nutrition labels on packaging is like trying to complete an advanced math equation: It’s possible, but requires a lot of effort.

Now, deciphering the labels will finally get easier. The US Food and Drug Administration just announced their final ruling on a long-anticipated overhaul of calorie labels on packaged foods.

The new Nutrition Facts labels will appear on millions of food packages within two years, finally telling you more about what you really need to know about your food for health — especially how much sugar has been added.

 FDA
Most food companies will be required use this new nutrition label in 2018.

There are five key changes to look out for:

  • The calories in a serving and the serving size will be presented in bigger and bolder text.
  • The amount of added sugars per serving will also be reported for the first time. Labels will also show how much that accounts for the daily value of sugar a person should be eating, as they have for carbohydrates, fats, and sodium for years.
  • Serving sizes will better reflect the amount of food people eat instead of telling you how much energy you get out of half a granola bar or three-fourths of a cup of yogurt.
  • Vitamin D, iron, calcium, and potassium will now be added to labels (because Americans aren’t consuming enough) but reporting the values of vitamins A and C will no longer be required (these deficiencies are now rare).
  • Instead of showing “calories from fat,” the label will now include “total fat” and sub-types like “saturated fat” and “trans fat.”  This reflects the research that certain types of fat are more harmful to health than others.

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