In Response to USTR, Says Specialty Sugar TRQ Should Be Limited to Refined Sugar to Meet U.S. Market Demand

Washington, D.C. (July 10, 2023) — In comments submitted last Friday to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the Sweetener Users Association (SUA) supported amending the definition of specialty sugar to “[r]equire no further refining, processing, or other preparation prior to consumption, other than incorporation as an ingredient in human food.”

In its comments, SUA explained that the need for an amendment stems from the outdated Harmonized Tariff Schedules of the United States’ definition of “raw sugar,” which allows sugar above a certain polarity (or quality) to legally enter under the specialty sugar quota as “refined,” even though it requires further processing to become usable by food companies.

By allowing “refined” specialty sugar imports that appear to be available supply when that is not actually the case, this practice has the potential to disadvantage competing sugar suppliers and distort sugar program decisions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Moreover, considering that additional specialty sugar can only be imported when domestic supplies are severely restricted, the need for further processing delays delivery to end users, exacerbating an already tight market.

“If sugar could be freely imported into the United States, end users like food manufacturers could simply seek out alternate sources of supply, but unfortunately, U.S. sugar imports are strictly controlled,” said SUA President Rick Pasco. “Within the current restrictive sugar import policy, USTR and USDA should ensure that their programs are executed so as to ensure that specialty sugars are immediately available to end users when U.S. domestic supplies are scarce.”

Media Contact:
Anna Miller