U.S. Dairy Protections Exempted from Australian Trade Deal
American dairy producers and sugar growers celebrated Monday after being excluded from a U.S.-Australia trade pact that would have opened up the U.S. market to Australian imports.
Dairy farmers boasted that strong lobbying had minimized any Australian inroads into their industry.
The National Milk Producers Federation said the pact with Australia preserved most of the existing dairy tariff structure, a "major accomplishment in light of extreme pressure by the Australians to completely open America's market to a flood of imports."
The deal did allow some additional access to the U.S. market for Australian exports, however, the federation said.
"Our best hopes were not realized through the negotiations, but neither were our worst fears," said federation president and chief executive Jerry Kozak. "We did achieve an important goal, which was no reduction in US high-tier, above-quota tariffs," he said.
US dairy farmers' lobbying to policymakers "was crucial in preventing Australia's government from negotiating much greater inroads into our markets," he said.
"We easily could have been steamrolled if we had not been very vocal about the dire economic and political consequences of a really bad deal for dairy farmers in this country," Kozak said.
American sugar growers blame government intervention for distorting the global market and they insist it should be dealt with in the World Trade Organization, not one-on-one or regional deals.
"We applaud the administration's treatment of sugar in the Australia agreement," U.S. Sugar Industry Group chair Carolyn Cheney said.
"It clearly demonstrates that an FTA (free trade agreement) can be successfully concluded without market access provisions on sugar and should serve as a template for all future FTA negotiations."