The Corner

Sweet Trade Sellout

It should be no surprise that the long-coddled sugar industry — and its hangers on (sugar beet growers, corn syrup producers, etc. — are pulling out all the stops to derail trade agreements that could loosen import restrictions on foreign sugar. But it is nothing short of outrageous that the Bush Administration appears to be capitulating, as noted in yesterday’s print WSJ. Under the proposed Centeral Amerian Free Trade Agreement, a small trickle of foreign sugar will be allowed in, and the Administration is apologizing to the sugar industry for it. Worse, in negotiations over the U.S.-Australia trade pact, the U.S. is threatening to pull sugar off the table (at least, no new Aussie sugar imports is how US Trade Rep. Robert Zoellick characterized the policy). If the Bush Administration stays this course, the deal might not go through. So U.S. manufacturers will receive less access to Aussie markets, and Americans (including all kinds of American companies that use sugar) will pay more for sweeteners, all to protect one well-connected industry. It’s enough to make a free trader sick.

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.

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