Mexico, the U.S.'s top foreign supplier of sugar, has canceled existing sugar export permits to the U.S. in a dispute over the pace of shipments, according to an exclusive report by the Reuters news agency.
While the letter seen by Reuters cites technicalities at the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, it comes at a time of souring relations and other trade disputes between the two countries. Any disruption, even temporary, could impact supplies for U.S. food & beverage processors.
The letter sent by Mexico's sugar chamber to mills on March 6 partly blamed the situation on unfilled positions at the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, saying Mexican officials could not find U.S. counterparts to negotiate with, according to Reuters. The letter said existing permits would be reissued in April. The country's sugar mills are in full swing at the height of the harvest.
Reuters could not get a comment from the Mexican Economy Ministry nor the country's sugar chamber. The news agency noted the U.S. sugar industry late last year asked the Commerce Dept. to withdraw from a 2014 trade agreement that sets prices and quota for U.S. imports of Mexican sugar, unless the deal can be renegotiated.