WASHINGTON – U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will hold a news conference later Tuesday with his Mexican counterpart to provide an update on their negotiations over curbing Mexican sugar exports -- though it is still unclear whether they will announce an agreement, an extension beyond a U.S.-imposed deadline or American sanctions, according to a person familiar with the matter.
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The Commerce Department issued a statement shortly after 7 a.m. EDT announcing the conference for 1:45 p.m. EDT with Mr. Ross and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo. The statement didn't elaborate on what they would discuss.
The men have been locked in talks to try to resolve a longstanding trade dispute over Mexican sugar exports to the U.S. American industry complains Mexican competitors are dumping their products illegally, aided by Mexican government subsidies.
Mr. Ross previously set a deadline of June 5 for Mexico to either agree to new sales curbs or face steep American duties on Mexican products. He said Monday that he was extending the deadline by one day, saying that he was "quite optimistic that our two nations are on the precipice of an agreement" and that the "short extension" was needed to work out "a few technical details."
But as of early Tuesday, those details had yet to be finalized, according to a person familiar with the discussions. The news conference was arranged because Mr. Guajardo is scheduled to leave the U.S. midafternoon.
A settlement announcement is still possible, the person said. But the two sides also could announce another extension.
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If there is a settlement, it is unclear whether it would be reached with or without industry support. The governments have been working closely with their respective industries during the negotiations and have been aiming to get their approval. But they could instead impose an agreement on the private sector in each country over their objections.
The U.S. also could impose tariffs nearing 80% on Mexican imports, a move that could prompt requests for retaliation in Mexico and sour coming talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 06, 2017 08:30 ET (12:30 GMT)