US - The dairy industry has praised a bipartisan group of 26 senators for urging US negotiators to address the needs of agriculture – including key dairy issues – in any free trade agreement with the European Union.
In a letter to US Trade Representative Michael Froman, the senators noted that the United States’ share of the European agricultural import market is shrinking due to both tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.
“A final [trade] agreement that does not include a strong framework for agriculture could have a negative impact on Congressional support for this deal,” the senators said.
Among other agricultural issues, the letter singled out the need to address restrictive certification requirements on US dairy exports, as well as the EU’s efforts to restrict use of food names specific to particular areas that dairy groups in the US consider to be generic.
The senators cited two earlier letters that urged negotiators to oppose European restrictions on the use of common food names. They added that the concerns cited in those letters had not been addressed so far in negotiations over the US-EU trade agreement, known officially as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).
Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), thanked the senators for highlighting the need to address agriculture concerns, and especially dairy issues, in the T-TIP negotiations.
“In 2015, we had a record $12 billion agricultural trade deficit with Europe, due largely to barriers erected specifically to limit exports of dairy foods and other US farm products,” Mr Mulhern said.
“Any successful European free trade agreement must break down those barriers. The US needs to soundly reject the EU’s desire to impose new barriers to competition around the world and to create taxpayer-funded advantages for its producers in our market. We should be using T-TIP to level the playing field.”
NMPF, along with the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), said it was concerned that dairy issues would not be addressed in the negotiations, which officials are aiming to resolve by the end of this year.
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