March 15, 2005

Craig, Crapo Discuss Sugar, Trade Issues With Zoellick

Express Concerns With Upcoming Sugar Trade Negotiations

WASHINGTON, DC â?? Idaho Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo met with United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick today to express their concern with the round of trade negotiations currently underway with a group of countries in Central America, and bilateral talks with Australia, South Africa, and Thailand. The Senators believe that any sugar trade policy proposals should be reserved for consideration for the World Trade Organization negotiating table, where more effective reform measures may be discussed.â??It's very significant that a large, bipartisan group of Senators voiced their concerns with Ambassador Zoellick regarding the direction that is being taken with respect to trade negotiations and sugar,â?? said Craig, who serves as the Co-Chairman of the Senate Sweetener Caucus. â??U.S. producers simply cannot take the brunt of a flood of foreign sugar unfairly dumped into our market that will drop the bottom out of domestic prices. There is a huge problem out there in the sugar market, and that must be solved quickly and effectively by the WTO. Including sugar in bilateral and regional trade agreements only puts our producers in Idaho and the country at great risk, and I will continue to make that case.â??â??Idahoâ??s sugar industry is far too important to be negotiated away in the potential Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA),â?? said Senator Mike Crapo. â??Ambassador Zoellick heard quite clearly today the concerns we have with the effects increased imports of sugar could have on our sugar industry and Idaho's economy. As the Administration continues to negotiate this and other trade agreements, I will continue to press for the expansion of foreign markets for our growers, but not at the expense of Idaho's agriculture industry.â??Over the past three years, sugar exports from the countries involved in these negotiations totaled more than 27 million metric tons â?? roughly three times the domestic level of consumption.[30]