Australia faces pushback in its quest for a bigger piece of U.S. sugar market

According to an article posted on September 12th, 2015 in the Star Tribune, ( leaders of the Australian sugar industry made a pitch that stated they should be allowed to expand sales of sugar to the United States as part of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). According to Warren Males, the Chief Economist for Canegrowers, the case for letting the agreement (TPP) open the US market to more Australian sugar makes sense, “if you take the politics out of it.” The problem is that politics can never be removed from the situation when anyone tries to change the United States’ strong sugar lobby. Australia is the most recent country to try using a free-trade agreement to push through the program of fixed prices, imports quotas, and loan guarantees that currently protect the sugar industry in the United States. Virtually every other country who has tried to break through has failed to do so. The issue is that the Australian government “has made it clear that sugar is a key item [in the TPP].” Failure to allow Australia access to the US sugar market could be a deal breaker for their support of the TPP. In 2015-2016 the United States is projected to produce 8.45 million tons of sugar while Australia is projected to produce 4.8 million tons. Males believes that the future growth in demand for sugar in the United States can be met by Australian sugar without hurting the United States producers. He believes that Australia could sell 750,000 tons of sugar to the US compared to their current quota of only 87,000 tons. Will the TPP allow Australia to sell more sugar in the US? Should the US sugar producers be worried about Australian sugar? Will sugar be a major stumbling block for the successful passing of the TPP? Are there any other issues in the TPP similar to sugar?

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