US and Mexico united on dairy trade priorities amid NAFTA renegotiation talks

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

The list addresses nine issues "disrupting dairy trade in North America."  ©iStock/ronniechua
The list addresses nine issues "disrupting dairy trade in North America." ©iStock/ronniechua

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The US and Mexico dairy sectors have issued a joint list of trade priorities for the modernization of NAFTA, protecting of generic cheese names, and Canada’s “sky-high” dairy tariffs.

The list follows the first round of NAFTA renegotiation discussions, which took place in Washington D.C. earlier this month.  

The list of nine priorities, collectively called the “United States-Mexico Dairy Alliance​” makes it clear that the US will continue to promote its trade relationship with Mexico, which totaled $1.2bn in US exports to Mexico in 2016.

“We want to strengthen our relationship as Mexico’s most trusted dairy trading partner so we can continue to work together for the benefit of dairy sectors on both sides of the border,” ​USDEC president and CEO, Tom Vilsack, said.

“That goal is all the more essential given other nations’ efforts to pursue harmful and disruptive approaches to dairy trade with Mexico through practices that hurt Mexican and US dairy farmers and workers in the process.”

The list also includes marketing efforts to promote increased milk and milk products consumption in Mexico through social media and information exchange of research on the health benefits of dairy.  

United in trade policy views

“We are very pleased that our friends in Mexico have joined us in expressing opposition to the abusive attempts of the European Union to confiscate common food names, as well as the trade distorting practices of Canada,”​ NMPF CEO and president, Jim Mulhern, said.

The EU is currently seeking to impose, through direct negotiations with Mexico, trade barriers on dairy products with “common” ​cheese names such as “Parmesan” ​and “Asiago”​ whose labels do not bear “Geographical Indicators”​ enforced by the EU.

US dairy groups remain unwavering in their stance against Canada’s new Class 6/7 pricing scheme, which has displaced US exports of milk powder to Canada and has raised prices on dairy trade. The new tariffs on US dairy exports “intentionally undercuts US dairy protein exports to other world markets, and at the same time, hurts dairy farmers in the US, Mexico and around the world by artificially lowering world market prices,” ​Mulhern added.

Future of NAFTA

The future of NAFTA remains unclear as the first round failed to produce any major progress in modernizing the trade agreement.

"Personally, I don't think we can make a deal,"​ US President Donald Trump said recently at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona. "I think we'll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point."

A second round of NAFTA modernization discussions is scheduled for Sept. 1-5 in Mexico City with a final negotiation meeting to take place in Canada.

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