A letter of complaint from more than a dozen trade groups, including the Grocery Manufactures Association, the American Beverage Association, and the Emergency Committee for Free Trade, has been sent to the Senate, accusing the sugar industry of working against free trade. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which came into force at the beginning of the year, trade restrictions were to be removed between the two countries. However, the complainants say the US and Mexican sugar industries have "concoted a private arrangement to reverse these market-opening sugar provisions in direction contravention to NAFTA" and are also working to "have the provisions of this arrangement inserted into the farm bill conference." Implications In their letter to the house of representatives and the US Senate, they call for the government to "issue the strongest possible statement" against this arrangement and to reject any piece of legislation that would rewrite the provisions of NAFTA. It is also feared the arrangement could re-ignite the long-running US-Mexico dispute over US exports of corn sweeteners. "Furthermore, unilaterally rewriting the NAFTA sugar provisions would strengthen the hand of the numerous Mexican agricultural groups seeking to renegotiate other provisions of NAFTA," the complainants said. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the US produced 7.5m tonnes of sugar in 2004, making it the fifth largest sugar producer in the world after China, India, Western Europe and Brazil. Sugar accounted for only 2.4 per cent of the US crops in 2004, with a value of $1.93bn (€1.4bn). However, the US is the fourth largest importer of sugar in the world after the Middle East, Russian Federation and Western Europe, having imported 1.6m tonnes in 2004. The report said sugar imports into the US are likely to increase, particularly due to the trade agreement with Mexico.