The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) testified before the Senate Finance Committee yesterday regarding its support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement negotiations and the need for a positive dairy outcome in those trade discussions.
"USDEC supports these negotiations, as it has all the recent agreements that have helped expand our increasingly export-dependent sector," said USDEC President Tom Suber, who was one of four witnesses to testify at the hearing on the challenges and opportunities of the TPP. "Today, we are pleased that the pieces are in place that this agreement, properly negotiated, could deliver large and lasting benefits across U.S. dairy sector. It is important to recognize, however, that if the Administration brings back an unfair result, the U.S. dairy industry will have no choice but to oppose Congressional approval of this agreement."
In his testimony, Suber highlighted four key areas as vital to achieving a positive overall dairy package:
- High-quality and enforceable Sanitary/Phytosanitary (SPS) measures to improve TPP trading conditions by strengthening reliance on scientific and risk-based requirements while maintaining the ability of all countries to preserve food, animal and plant health.
- Export market access opportunities, through securing fully open access for U.S. dairy products into Canada and Japan, as well as Vietnam and Malaysia.
- Meaningful reform of excessive market concentration in New Zealand's dairy industry as a necessary precursor to any expansion of U.S.-New Zealand dairy trade.
- Improved guidelines aimed at preserving the use of common food names such as parmesan and feta, which the European Union is seeking to allow only European manufacturers to use.
Suber concluded his remarks by referencing an economic assessment by the National Milk Producers Federation that found that without major reforms in New Zealand and without other dairy market access opportunities in the TPP, the U.S. industry would lose $20 billion over the first decade of the agreement. "USDEC's aim is to turn that sizable loss into a strongly positive figure at the end of the day. Our ability to do so hinges on how key elements of TPP are ultimately decided," said Suber in his testimony.
A copy of USDEC's testimony can be found here.