To Top

What Congress Can Learn from Vietnam on Sugar Policy

By Chuck Muth, President, Citizen Outreach

Members of Congress hoping scuttle the U.S. sugar program of targeted tariffs and import quotas on international competitors that subsidize their sugar industries should take a look at what’s going on in Vietnam right now.

According to a report published by the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) last week…

“After many years of maintaining a protection policy, Vietnam began to implement its commitments under the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) from the beginning of the year, by not limiting the sugar imported from ASEAN countries and tariffs being cut to zero percent.”

Exactly what Big Candy’s lobbyists in DC are hoping to achieve under a new Biden administration.  But the results aren’t exactly sweet…

“Since the removal of tariff quotas, the total amount of sugarcane imported into Vietnam has increased rapidly, reaching approximately 1.3 million tonnes in the first 10 months of 2020. In addition, the price of imported sugar is also very low, causing many difficulties for sugar enterprises as well as farmers.

“Faced with cheap imported sugar, Vietnam’s domestic sugar price has fallen to a very low level, leading to low sugarcane prices.  This, the conference was told, was one of the reasons sugarcane farmers have fallen into debt. …

“The country now has 29 sugar plants in 2019-20 crop season, 11 less than the previous season. In the 2020-21, it is forecast to be a difficult year for the local sugar industry, especially in the complicated situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. …

“Nguyen Van Loc, secretary general of the Vietnam Sugar and Sugarcane Association (VSSA) said they have sufficient databases available to identify imported sugar originating from Thailand as dumped and subsidised for dumping in foreign markets. In addition, it also has clear evidence that dumped imported sugar causes significant damages to the domestic industry.”

Eliminating the U.S. sugar program would open up the spigot of cheap, government-subsidized imported sugar from nations that “cheat” and would result in unfair competition for American sugar farmers and producers.

Big Candy wants to change U.S. trade policies from “America First” under President Trump to “America Last” under a President Biden.  Congress shouldn’t play along.