MEXICO CITY -- Calling it a setback for free trade, Mexico on Wednesday rejected a US move to slap duties on sugar imports from its southern neighbor.
The U.S. Commerce Department Tuesday announced a preliminary decision imposing duties of three to 17% on the sugar imports to offset what it said were government subsidies to Mexican sugar producers.
"It's a decision we reject," Mexican Foreign Trade Under Secretary Francisco de Rosenzweig told Radio Formula.
Rosenzweig said Mexico supports its sugar producers only when prices fall below an established range, and insisted "no subsidies are granted."
The measure is "a setback in the spirit of free trade" established under the 1994 North American Free Trade Accord between Mexico, the United States and Canada.
The Mexican economy ministry has also voiced its regrets over the U.S. action, which it said was prompted by "unjustified" lawsuits filed by the U.S. sugar industry.
"There are better and more collaborative ways to resolve differences that might arise in the North American sweetener market," it said.
A definitive U.S. decision on the issue is expected in the first half of 2015, according to the Mexican authorities.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014