The US Department of Commerce has issued a preliminary ruling, based on its preliminary findings that the Mexican government’s support of its sugar industry gives Mexican sugar imports an unfair advantage over US producers. The direct result of the ruling is a temporary duty placed on Mexican sugar imports until the Commerce Department can complete its investigation. The duty deposit will range from 2.99 to 14.87 percent.

Domestic sugar producers hailed the move, with Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, saying the ruling validates the organization’s long-standing complaint that Mexican imports are hurting American sugar producers and their employees.

However, many US food manufacturers have a different view. Robb MacKie, president and CEO of the American Bakers Association (ABA), says the move will make it even harder for manufacturers to secure an adequate supply of sugar.

“This decision puts 700,000 baking industry jobs at risk,” says Cory Martin, ABA director of government relations. “The Department of Commerce needs to take a hard look at their 2006 report highlighting domestic job losses due to the current US sugar program. The current program has already led to the loss of approximately 127,000 jobs. Restricting free trade with Mexico through duties will only exacerbate the problem.”