Does anyone remember the arguments about sugar imports during the debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993?
Or the prohibitions against importing Brazilian-made ethanol at a fraction of what Iowa ethanol costs the American consumer?
American sugar while tiny in jobs is powerful because it spreads millions of dollars around Congress.
Did anyone notice that the Trump Administration entered office with a sugar crisis centered on Mexican imports of refined sugar?
American sugar people claimed Mexico was violating NAFTA rules. Hot and heavy news reports brought attention to the “crisis” and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross drew a line and told us that sugar imports would be stopped from Mexico if an agreement wasn’t reached by a date certain in June.
Issue: American sugar producers were being out-competed by Mexican sugar producers; the specific item – refined sugar. American sugar refiners were being beaten in the refined sugar market by more efficient Mexican sugar producers. A quiet agreement was reached by the Trump Administration and the Mexicans. American sugar refiners won; they will make money by protection. The losers: American consumers.
My argument in 1993 in support of NAFTA was simply based. We in San Diego were paying double for sugar what our Mexican next door neighbors were paying two feet across the border in Tijuana.
Back to the Chicago Nabisco facility. Trump was incensed when Nabisco announced it was cutting its Chicago workforce by 600 jobs and moving those jobs to a new automated plant in Mexico. It became a campaign plank promising to stop that kind of job movement to Mexico.
NAFTA, Trump declared, was the worst trade deal in history; it was and is a “disaster.” There was no mention of why Nabisco was making the move.
The issue is nothing more than the U.S. government prohibiting a free market in sugar to protect a handful of sugar producers and refiners with the American consumer footing the bill. Americans pay as much as $1.4 Billion more in artificially-high sugar prices than they should.