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Conrad: Sugar negotiations are a recipe for disaster

Williston Herald, North Dakota, USA

10 January 2005

Conrad: Sugar negotiations are a recipe for disaster

By The Williston Herald

"Negotiating sugar trades in bilateral free trade agreements is a recipe for disaster for the U.S. sugar industry," warned Sen. Kent Conrad Friday.

Conrad reportedly made a request to the White House to reject any agreement that would dump foreign subsidized sugar into the U.S. market.

He and Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, wrote a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick in wake of trade agreement talks underway with Panama and the Andean nations.

The letter warns the administration is pursuing a course that will jeopardize the U.S. sugar industry by opening our domestic market to subsidized sugar produced by Panama and the Andean nations.

Conrad gave the Central America Free Trade Agreement as an example of how negotiated trade can flood the domestic market. As negotiated, CAFTA allows 100,000 tons of foreign-subsidized sugar into the domestic market with an additional 2 percent a year thereafter, Conrad stated.

He also claimed CAFTA sets a precedent that if extended to other trade agreements currently under negotiation, could lead to another 500,000 tons of sugar flooding the U.S. market. This could cause severe economic damage to the sugar market, Conrad wrote.

"We seek your commitment that sugar will be excluded from the Panama and Andean FTAs," stated Conrad. "This is particularly important because these countries collectively produce 4 million tons of sugar, enough to swamp the U.S. sugar market."