Keeping sugar same in TPP ‘unsustainable and unacceptable’: NCA

By Hal Conick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags International trade United states

Should Australia be allowed to export more sugar into the US?
Should Australia be allowed to export more sugar into the US?
The National Confectioners Association (NCA) is pushing for Australia to be allowed to export more sugar to the US under the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) as it decries plans to maintain current US sugar rules.

However, Reuters reported Australia - the world's second largest exporter of sugar - has balked at the US’s offer of allowing them to export approximately 150,000 tons of sugar, desiring a limit raise to 500,000 tons.

The status quo is ’unsustainable’

Christopher Gindlesperger, vice president of public affairs and communications at the National Confectioners Association​, called it “unsustainable and unacceptable”​ to maintain the current status quo of sugar trade in the new TPP.

“US sugar prices are about double the rest of the world,”​ Gindlesperger told ConfectioneryNews. “Australia should be permitted to export more sugar into the US, not only because there is demand for it, but also because the US has a free trade agreement with Australia.”

In an open letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, Perry Cerminara, chairman of the Sweetener Users Association​ (SUA), said sugar should not compromise the entire trade agreement.

“The United States needs to grant Australia commercially meaningful access for sugar, in the same way that American negotiators are – properly – insisting that other TPP countries give market access for our exports,”​ he wrote. “Comprehensive free trade agreements ensure that our trading partners will open their markets to all our products, not just a select group.”

SUA released a statement later adding that talks between the sides had, seemingly, progressed.

No issue?

Philip Hayes, spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance​ (ASA), which represents sugar farmers, suppliers and processors, told this site that sugar “was clearly not a sticking point in the recent TPP negotiations,” ​and that there has been positive head way toward an agreement during recent meetings in Hawaii.

Hayes said the ASA has been encouraged by Froman’s repeated commitment to not undermine a no-cost US sugar policy.

Some TPP countries continue to make unreasonable demands on sugar, despite the extensive market access commitments the US has already made in past trade agreements, the problems these commitments have caused for the operation of US sugar policy, and the generous market access these countries already enjoy,” ​Hayes said. 

“It is essential that our trade negotiators remain firm in rejecting such demands.”

More jobs?

Cerminara wrote that greater access to sugar in the US market may mean bringing back some of the jobs lost in the sugar-using sector. He believes it may allow the market to be more competitive by adding a supply of sugar at “reasonable prices.”

Agreeing with this sentiment, Gindlesperger said if more Australian sugar was allowed it the US, the base of 600,000 jobs in the confectionery industry would expand.

“[There’s] no downside,”​ Gindlesperger said. “It would not impact the amount of products produced or the sugar content within those products.  In fact, a lower price for the commodity could mean a lower price of the end product for the consumer. “

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