NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Sweet Deals: the Problem with Sugar Import Quotas

February 12, 2004

Jobs in America's candy industry are jeopardized by protectionism, which is always advertised as job protection. In this case, the protectionism is an agriculture subsidy -- sugar import quotas, which raise the price of sugar for 280 million Americans, says George Will.

Some companies affected include:

  • Brach's, which ended its production of hard candy on Chicago's West Side and moved most of the jobs to Mexico where it can pay the world market price of sugar, which is one-half to one-third of the U.S. price as propped up by import quotas
  • Life Savers, which for 90 years were made in America, are now made in Canada, where labor costs are comparable but the yearly cost of sugar is $10 million less.
  • Chicago's Ferrara Pan Candy Co., maker of Jawbreakers, Red Hots and Boston Baked Beans, has moved much of its production to Mexico and Canada.

Is protectionism lethal? Promoted by Democrats hawking their compassion, protectionism could somewhat flatten the trajectory of America's rising prosperity. But protectionism could kill millions in developing nations by slowing world growth, thereby impeding those nations from achieving prosperity sufficient to pay for potable water, inoculations, etc. Developed nations spend $1 billion a day on agriculture subsidies that prevent poor nations' farmers from competing in the world market, says Will.

Source: George Will, "Sweet And Sour Subsidies," Washington Post, February 12, 2004.


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