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'Time to finish' TPP trade negotiations: USDEC, NMPF

By Mark Astley+

04-Mar-2014
Last updated the 04-Mar-2014 at 14:21 GMT

'Time to finish' TPP trade negotiations: USDEC, NMPF

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) have urged Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators to “move forward without” Japan and Canada if they are unwilling to open their markets to dairy products.

In a joint statement, US dairy representatives NMPF and USDEC called on TPP delegates to put pressure on their Japanese and Canadian counterparts to secure free trade of dairy products between the countries.

The dairy duo, who between them represent the interests of US dairy producers, processors, and exporters, issued the statement following the close of the latest TPP meeting in Singapore.

Free trade talks with Japan and Canada have “been frustratingly slow, and US negotiators shouldn’t allow the process to drag on indefinitely,” said the joint statement.

“The US dairy industry is prepared to eliminate all tariffs affecting dairy trade with Canada and Japan, as long as they do the same,” said NMPF president and CEO, Jim Mulhern.

“If Japan and Canada are not willing to make an effort and offer realistic market access to the US, then they are not serious about being part of TPP,” he added.

"Running out of both patience and time"

Weighing in, USDEC president, Tom Suber said it is "time to finish the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations."

He added that the US “has been patient and flexible with our Japanese and Canadian friends, but we are running out of both patience and time."

“The principle of creating comprehensive market access is too important to this and future trade agreements. Therefore, if Japan and Canada are not committed to this goal, we need to move forward without them," he said.

"We strongly believe there is an achievable deal to which both countries can agree, but that deal must include substantial market access for our products. It cannot be any other way."

As well as Japan, the US, and Canada, other markets bordering the Pacific Ocean including Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, are involved in TPP negotiations. It was developed with the aim of managing trade, promoting growth, and integrating the economies of the Asia-Pacific region.

Through the talks the US is hoping to boost "economic growth and support the creation and retention of high-quality American jobs by increasing exports."

Following the latest round of talks, ministers and heads of delegation for TPP countries said that they had "made further strides toward a final agreement."

“Monopolistic” New Zealand

In their joint statement, NMPF and USDEC also reiterated their concerns about New Zealand's “monopolistic dairy structure” and the potential impact of a free trade agreement on the US dairy industry.

They reminded US negotiators "that TPP talks must address that concern."

In March 2013, a coalition of 11 US rural organizations warned the Senate Finance Committee that increasing Fonterra-dominated New Zealand’s access to the US dairy sector through the TPP talks would be “damaging” to producers and processors in the country.

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