US Lawmakers: End Sweetner Row

U.S. lawmakers from corn-producing states called on the Bush administration to reach a deal with Mexico quickly to end a dispute over corn syrup and sugar trade.

In letters to President George W. Bush and U.S. Trade

Representative Robert Zoellick, members of the Senate Agriculture Committee along with the Illinois delegation of the House of Representatives, complained that U.S. corn farmers and refiners were suffering economic damage because of the trade dispute.

"An agreement must be reached this week," wrote the

Illinois lawmakers, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

For the past year, Mexico has levied a 20% tax on

high-fructose corn syrup used by its soft-drink industry. The move caused Mexican beverage makers to switch from corn syrup to sugar to sweeten their drinks and put an end to U.S. corn syrup shipments to Mexico.

The Mexican Congress enacted the tax in retaliation against

U.S. barriers to Mexican sugar exports. U.S. and Mexican negotiators have been working since summer to resolve the sweetener trade dispute.

One U.S. sugar industry official told Reuters on Wednesday

that while a deal with Mexico "is possible this week, I don't know how likely it is."

He said some "key issues" still had to be resolved with

Mexico. But he added that trade negotiators were

"developing sections of text" that could become part of an eventual deal.

Editors note: Richard Brock, Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at

www.brockreport.com.