Dairy organizations look to Congress for TPP agreement support

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

The NMPF, USDEC and the IDFA want Congress to support the TPP - and also to enforce it.
The NMPF, USDEC and the IDFA want Congress to support the TPP - and also to enforce it.

Related tags International trade

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) have sent a letter to members of Congress urging support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

The TPP agreement was signed in February 2016 by the 12 nations, but has yet to come into force.

The communication also addresses implementation and enforcement issues related to how the agreement is likely to work in practice.

As part of this, the associations urged the federal government to ensure that other participating countries adhere to their respective commitments within the pact.

All three organizations say that after months of scrutiny, they have endorsed the pact between 12 countries, saying the agreement presents, on balance, a step forward for US dairy farmers and companies that process and market their milk.

Addressing sanitary issues

In the letter, the three dairy groups outline the benefits the agreement could bring to the industry, such as improving the rules governing trade throughout the TPP region. For instance, the letter applauds TPP's commitments on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues, as well as geographical indications (GIs) and common food names.

"The geographical indications provisions in TPP, for the first time, establish a more equitable process for considering GIs and emphasize the importance of safeguarding usage of common food names," ​the letter said.

"This is a key priority for our industry as we face the European Union's global efforts to wield GIs as nontariff barriers to trade in order to limit competition and market access from US suppliers."

US must actively enforce agreement

The 12 TPP signatories:

  • Australia
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Peru
  • Singapore
  • United States
  • Vietnam

However, the three organizations also noted issues that need to be addressed during the TPP's implementation process.

The letter asks Congress to insist that Canada and Japan be held to their own commitments – both existing ones and new ones under the agreement. It also highlights the importance of the US ensuring active enforcement of its own market access provisions.

"TPP can help support the continued growth of a robust US dairy industry, provided not only that the commitments captured in the text of the agreement are fully implemented, but also that countries are not allowed to backtrack on existing market access agreements to offset what has been granted via TPP,"​ the letter continued.

Compliance is important

Tom Suber, president of USDEC, said that, "The SPS and GI commitments in particular should help keep in check the ability of countries to erode existing and future market access for US dairy exporters through arbitrary, unjustified and oftentimes sudden regulatory determinations."

"But for them to live up to their potential we need to ensure our trading partners realize we're serious about their compliance with these pieces."

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