U.S., Mexico reach sugar pact without backing from U.S. producers | Reuters – News

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By David Lawder and Chris Prentice

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK Mexico agreed to significant concessions on Tuesday to maintain its access to the lucrative U.S. sugar market, but U.S. sugar producers refused to endorse the deal between the governments, raising the risk that it could collapse.

The agreement in principle between U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo aims to aims to avoid steep duties on Mexican sugar and resolve a longstanding trade dispute between the United States and Mexico as the two countries and Canada prepare to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement this year.

Under the deal, Mexico would sharply reduce the share of refined sugar in its exports to the United States, while increasing its share of raw sugar exports and the agreement lifts the minimum prices for Mexican imports. (See Factbox)

“We have gotten the Mexican side to agree to nearly every request made by U.S. industry to address flaws in the current system and ensure fair treatment of American sugar growers and refiners,” Ross told a news conference.

Still, Ross said the U.S. sugar producers had told him that they could not accept the deal in its current form, but he hoped that they would agree to some changes in a final drafting of the agreement in the next several days.

He did not elaborate on what action the Commerce Department would take if there were no final agreement with the U.S. producers.

The negotiations were an attempt to settle an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy case brought by a coalition of cane and beet farming groups and ASR Group, the maker of Domino Sugar that is owned by the politically well-connected Fanjul family of Florida.

While the limits on refined sugar from Mexico at 30 percent were significantly below the previous 53 percent limit, these groups had initially pushed for a 15 percent limit.

Sources on both sides of the border had said on Monday that the U.S. sugar industry had added new demands outside of the terms agreed on earlier yesterday by the two governments.

The American Sugar Alliance said it objected to the new deal because it said that Mexico would still be able to ship in refined sugar to meet additional U.S. demand above quota, rather than the U.S. Department of Agriculture having the final decision over the type of sugar that was shipped.

It was also unclear whether Ross would simply impose the settlement on the industry if the U.S. producers did not sign onto it.


The agreement, if finalized, was expected to avert potential retaliation from Mexico on imports of U.S. high-fructose corn syrup which had worried corn growers and refiners.

“Avoiding a trade war will benefit everyone, and I’m glad that this years-long trade dispute is finally reaching its end,” said Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, adding that Ross balanced all interests in the negotiations.

U.S. refiners have complained that high-quality Mexican raw sugar was going straight to sugar consumers, rather than passing through U.S. refineries.

The deal would mark the culmination of a multi-year dispute between the countries over sugar, after U.S. groups in 2014 asked the government for protection from subsidized exports from Mexico to the U.S.In 2014, the U.S. government slapped large duties on Mexican sugar but hammered out a deal with Mexico that suspended those levies. Factions of the U.S. industry have said that the deal has failed to eliminate harm to U.S. producers from Mexican imports.

ASR and fellow cane refiner Imperial Sugar, owned by commodities firm Louis Dreyfus Company BV [AKIRAU.UL], have said they are being starved of raw supplies under the current deal. They have asked the U.S. government to terminate the pact.

The latest talks began in March, two months after U.S. President Donald Trump took office vowing a tougher line on trade to protect U.S. industry and jobs.

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington, Anthony Esposito and Dave Graham in Mexico City and Chris Prentice in New York.; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Meredith Mazzilli, David Chance and Lisa Shumaker)

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By Jennifer Ablan

NEW YORK Solid payroll figures in June should keep the U.S. Federal Reserve in a “hike-once-a-quarter mindset,” said influential bond manager Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive of DoubleLine Capital, on Friday.

Nonfarm payrolls jumped by 222,000 jobs last month, driven by hefty gains in healthcare, government, restaurants and the professional and business services sectors, the Labor Department said on Friday. It was the second biggest payrolls increase this year and beat economists’ expectations for a 179,000 rise.

“It’s a good run-of-the-mill jobs report,” Gundlach said in a telephone interview. Gundlach, known on Wall Street as the “Bond King,” said the payrolls report will keep the U.S. central bank in a tightening mode.

“It’s not ‘old school’ sequential tightening when the Fed hiked at every meeting until something breaks,” such as a U.S. recession, Gundlach said. “What we have now is the ‘new old school’ sequential tightening.”

Gundlach, who oversees more than $109 billion in assets under management at Los Angeles-based DoubleLine, said it appears as though the Federal Reserve has been paying attention to record stock prices.

“I think the Fed is emboldened to hike when the stock market is pushing near highs and when there is a sense or whiff of panic in the air, they start to talk cautiously.”

Friday, the Fed said in its semiannual report to Congress that vulnerabilities in the U.S. financial system “remained, on balance, moderate.”

Gundlach said the Fed was “getting awfully specific” on asset prices in its semiannual report. “It almost sounds like they are saying, ‘I warned you and don’t blame us.’ I told you we were going to do this (hike rates) and asset prices are going down. If stocks go down 10 percent in October, don’t blame us.”

The Fed’s report stated that forward equity price-to-earnings ratios rose a bit further and are now at their highest levels since the early 2000s, while a measure of the risk premium embedded in high-yield corporate bond spreads declined a touch from an already low level, implying high asset valuations in the market as well. (bit.ly/2sP7Rb5)

“Prices of CRE (Commercial Real Estate) have continued to advance at a rapid clip amid slowing rent growth and rising interest rates, though there are signs of tightening credit conditions in CRE markets,” the Fed said. “In derivatives markets, investor compensation for bearing near-term volatility risk has remained low, suggesting a sustained investor risk appetite.”

(Reporting by Jennifer Ablan; Editing by Tom Brown and Lisa Shumaker)

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Under Construction

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Caterpillar to rally 30% on construction equipment turnaround

Investors should buy Caterpillar because the company will report earnings this year significantly above Wall Street expectations, according to Goldman Sachs, which reiterated its buy rating on the equipment manufacturer and added the company to its Americas conviction buy list.

“Construction machinery demand is in the early stages of recovery, with significant scope for inventory restock,” analyst Jerry Revich wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. “A modest construction recovery in key regions, compounded by normalization in machinery share of capex should drive strong demand growth off of historically low levels.”

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