(Rewrites throughout to add AmCane lawyer's comments, context)
By Chris Prentice
NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Louis Dreyfus Commodities' Imperial Sugar Co and AmCane Sugar LLC on Friday began an appeals process against the U.S. government over a sugar trade pact between the United States and Mexico that the companies say would hurt their business.
The companies are contesting a decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) rejecting their challenge to the trade deal, according to a summons filed in the Court of International Trade by Imperial Sugar and to AmCane's lawyer.
The ITC last month voted unanimously to reject challenges from Imperial Sugar and fellow cane refiner AmCane Sugar to the deal, which established floor prices and a quota for sugar imports from Mexico.
Imperial Sugar and AmCane Sugar LLC asked the ITC to review agreements designed to end a trade dispute between the two countries. The companies have said they support a deal, but the suspension agreements signed in December could starve them of supplies and hurt margins.
"We filed a summons to start an appeals process," said John Magnus, AmCane's lawyer. He said the companies have 30 days to file a full complaint.
Litigation over the ITC's decision could prolong the year-long battle over flows of the sweetener between the two countries after U.S. growers and processors complained that low-priced Mexican sugar was flooding the market. The ITC's approval in March moved the deal closer to certainty. (Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Richard Chang and Grant McCool)