The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA)—a Washington, D.C. trade association representing all aspects of U.S. dairy from dairy cooperatives producing the milk to dairy processors and marketers to grocery retailers—issued the following statement today from IDFA president Michael Dykes on the U.S.-Japan trade deal:
“The U.S. dairy industry is very pleased to see that the United States and Japan have reached an agreement that will reduce tariffs on U.S. exports of certain food and agricultural goods to Japan’s growing market. Although full details of the agreement have not been released, we are confident this deal is a step in the right direction and will help to improve our current market position with Japan. If we had done nothing, U.S. dairy would continue to be less competitive in a global marketplace where Japan has implemented trade deals with competitors including the EU, New Zealand and Australia. While early reports indicate this deal does not fully achieve the same tariff rate reductions as those negotiated under the abandoned Trans-Pacific Partnership or the EU-Japan deal, it should deliver those benefits to cheese and whey—two of our largest exports to Japan. The Administration notes that this is the first step of a multi-step process to achieve a more level playing field for American agriculture in Japan, and we hope the next step comes quickly and delivers benefits for all dairy products. IDFA’s aim with the U.S.-Japan deal was to realize the same tariff-rate reductions afforded the EU and competitors through CPTPP, thereby ensuring American producers and processors remain on a level playing field with our competitors. Without a level playing field for U.S. dairy in ever-growing Asian markets, we will continue to cede valuable market share to global competitors.”
“IDFA will continue to fight to ensure our dairy industry is prioritized in each and every trade negotiation undertaken by this Administration and that our Congress understands the importance of passing trade deals before them, such as the USMCA. These are make or break times for our dairy producers and processors. The sooner the United States can return to a market- and rules-based system of international trade where we’re able to capitalize on carefully cultivated markets around the world, the better for our U.S. dairy industry and the 3 million Americans who depend on our industry for employment.”
The United States exported $270 million in dairy products to Japan in 2018, making it our fifth largest overseas market with room for further growth. Per-capita consumption of dairy products in Japan has increased 4% per year and domestic production is unable to keep pace. A level playing field would have allowed the United States to triple our cheese exports to Japan over a decade. That’s particularly important because Japan is the second largest net importer of cheese in the world, importing nearly $1.3 billion in cheese in 2018.