Sugar Imports Under Tariff-Rate Quotas
The United States imports sugar under a system of tariff-rate
quotas (TRQ). A TRQ is a two-tiered tariff for which the tariff
rate charged depends on the volume of imports. A low-tier
(in-quota) tariff is charged on imports within the quota volume. A
high-tier (over-quota) tariff is charged on imports in excess of
the quota volume. Almost all raw cane sugar, refined sugars and
sugar syrups, and sugar-containing products are imported under TRQs
for those products. (See the Policy page for more information on TRQs.)
Yearly imports under the raw and refined sugar TRQs since fiscal
year (FY) 2000 have averaged 1.48 million short tons, raw value
(STRV). USDA has established TRQs at lower levels in recent years
to offset increasing domestic production. ERS projects that TRQ
imports through 2015 will continue mostly at levels that are
consistent with U.S. commitments under international
Most U.S. sugar imports are raw cane sugar. The raw cane sugar
TRQ is allocated to 40 countries based on patterns established
during the relatively unrestricted free trade period of 1975-81.
The Dominican Republic, Brazil, and the Philippines hold the
largest shares--approximately 17, 14, and 13 percent, respectively.
Declines in the overall quantity of the quota have reduced imports
from all suppliers with the exception of the 10 small suppliers
whose allocations are limited to 7,258 metric tons, raw value
(MTRV), a quantity considered to be equal to a minimum boatload of
As of January 1, 2008, sugar from Mexico enters the United
States duty-free under the
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and is not subject
to quota restrictions.
Imports and Exports Under the Sugar Re-Export Programs
USDA administers two re-export programs to help U.S. sugar
refiners and manufacturers of sugar-containing products compete in
world markets. The Refined Sugar Re-Export Program establishes a
license against which a refiner can import world-priced sugar for
refining and export as refined sugar or for sale to licensed
manufacturers of sugar-containing products. The Sugar-Containing
Products Re-Export Program allows U.S. participants to buy sugar
from any of the refiner participants for use in products that will
be exported onto the world market. Imports under the two programs
are not subject to sugar TRQs.
USDA also administers the Polyhydric Alcohol Program, which
provides world-priced sugar to U.S. manufacturers of polyhydric
alcohols. Participating U.S. manufacturers purchase world-priced
sugar from licensed refiners or their agents for use in the
production of polyhydric alcohols, except polyhydric alcohols that
are used as a substitute for sugar in human food consumption. U.S.
sugar imports under the two Re-Export Programs and the Polyhydric
Alcohol Program averaged 400,000 STRV in the 2000s.
The Refined and Sugar-Containing Products Re-Export Programs are
the chief source of U.S. sugar exports. During the 2000s, the
Refined Sugar Re-Export Program averaged 214,000 STRV of exports
annually, and deliveries to domestic food manufacturers under the
Sugar-Containing Products Re-Export Program averaged 137,000 STRV a
For current data on imports and exports of sugar and sweeteners,
see the Sugar
and Sweeteners Yearbook tables.