Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo will travel to Washington next week for talks about sugar exports, he told reporters on Monday, in an attempt to break an impasse that threatens to trigger tit-for-tat duties on sweeteners.
U.S.-Mexican trade relations are already under strain as U.S. President Donald Trump seeks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement pact with Mexico and Canada and build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and have Mexico pay for it.
The U.S. sugar industry pressed the Commerce Department late last year to withdraw from a 2014 trade agreement that sets prices and quota for U.S. imports of Mexican sugar unless the deal could be renegotiated.
Mexico and the United States last week extended a deadline to June 5 to reach an agreement on how much Mexican refined and crude sugar can enter the United States.
Speaking at an event in Mexico City, Agriculture Minister Jose Calzada said Mexico was willing to react in-kind to any U.S. duties imposed on its sugar.
“If we were to have to pay … tariffs on Mexican sugar imports, the federal government would energetically consider similar measures on some U.S. product,” Calzada said.
Mexico is the top foreign supplier of sugar to the United States, a coveted market of 12 million tons where the U.S. government gives export quotas to about 40 sugar-producing countries each year through trade programs.