Dairy group endorses TPP deal

NMPF said it will work closely with U.S. government to ensure TPP commitments are upheld.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) voted Tuesday to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, a historic pact among 12 countries containing features that will help America’s dairy farmers in the future. The organization is now urging Congress to pass the agreement this year, even as it also registered concerns with another major trade pact being negotiated with the Europe Union.

In addition to adopting a resolution of support for TPP, the NMPF board expressed its opposition today to moving forward with the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) in light of Europe’s continued refusal to remove barriers to U.S. dairy exports.

“Taken in its entirety, the TPP agreement is positive for the U.S. dairy industry,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Although it achieves less than we wanted in terms of throwing open new markets in Japan and Canada, I am particularly pleased that we did not concede to a huge surge in new imports.”

NMPF’s position reflects a detailed assessment of the entire package conducted by the staffs of both NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).

The TPP agreement also contains important provisions designed “to knock down other trade barriers, such as food safety disputes, and to challenge the growing number of restrictions limiting trade of foods with commonly used names, such as parmesan,” Mulhern said.

Despite its endorsement, in order to make sure that U.S. dairy farmers and exporters receive the full benefit of the TPP package, NMPF said U.S. government agencies must take concrete steps to ensure the diligent enforcement of the agreement’s provisions with America’s trading partners. The NMPF resolution also urges the U.S. to establish proper enforcement measures regarding access granted to the domestic market and to monitor compliance with those measures after the TPP agreement is implemented.

The NMPF board also formally registered its view that given the lack of significant export inroads in the agreement, the TPP market access package should not be used as a template for future U.S. trade agreements.

The board weighed several factors in making its decision to support the TPP agreement. Among these were:

  • The net effect on the U.S. dairy industry of all TPP market access concessions is expected to be neutral to slightly positive, with the most notable U.S. export gains coming in Canada and Japan, along with somewhat smaller increases in new imports.
  • The agreement has the potential to expand over time to include additional participants in Asia, particularly nations that currently – or will soon – have trade agreements with major U.S. dairy competitors. It is imperative that the U.S. remain a key player in the region as its works to expand future exports.
  • In the areas of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) provisions, TPP features groundbreaking new commitments that should help keep in check the possibility for participating countries to erode existing and future market access for U.S. dairy exporters through unjustified regulatory determinations.
  • TPP contains new provisions for geographical indications (GIs) to establish a more equitable international model on registering GIs for food. The text does not directly block the EU from inappropriately restricting the use of common food names important to global trade, but it does significantly strengthen the ability for the U.S. to combat barriers when they arise, thereby helping preserve market access opportunities for U.S. companies.

At the same time it voted to support TPP, the NMPF board also went on record to oppose any further advancement of the U.S.-EU TTIP negotiations that does not include fully addressing U.S. dairy export concerns related to SPS, barriers to trade and common name issues. 

Mulhern indicated that at the present time, “the negotiations have not demonstrated concrete progress towards addressing food safety challenges and other non-tariff trade barriers. In addition, we remain extremely concerned” about the EU’s efforts to claw back common food names for its members. The failure to resolve these issues in the TTIP “would exacerbate the existing U.S. dairy trade deficit with the EU of over $1 billion,” Mulhern said.

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