Vienna, VA – The U.S. confectionery industry today condemned the results of the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement negotiations. Representatives from the National Confectioners Association, the major industry group representing the interests of domestic candy manufacturers, were extremely disappointed to learn that the FTA does not include increased U.S. access to Australian-grown sugar, the critical factor for the industry in all trade negotiations.
The trade negotiations, which concluded on Sunday, resulted in an agreement that will increase trade between the U.S. and Australia in several areas. Candy makers and others had hoped the agreement would allow for more Australian-grown sugar to find its way into the United States. Under a true Free Trade Agreement, sugar grown in Australia would be available at a price lower than the artificially high price set for U.S. sugar under the sugar price support program.
“The decision not to increase the import limits for Australian-grown sugar is extremely regrettable,” said NCA Chairman and Vice Chair of the Jelly Belly Candy Company, Bill Kelley. “Other countries cannot take us seriously in seeking true free trade agreements if, at the same time, we pursue special protections for this specific commodity.”
Kelley noted that limiting access to Australian-grown sugar puts additional pressure on U.S. companies employing U.S. citizens to compete in the world confectionery market. “The U.S. is creating a competitive disadvantage for domestic confectionery manufacturers by allowing foreign companies to ship confectionery products made with world price sugar into the United States, but limiting its own confectionery companies from buying world price sugar. The trade agreement with Australia is damaging to U.S. manufacturers and jobs.” In the last six years an estimated 4,000 jobs have been lost in the U.S. confectionery industry alone due to the sugar price support program.
Kelley added the confectionery industry will continue to urge the administration to include sugar in all future trade agreements, as they did when negotiating the Central American Free Trade Agreement.