The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) said they commend the administration’s decision to terminate the preferential trade status granted to India for its failure to provide “equitable and reasonable access to its market” and comply with other provisions of the statute, as required. By holding India accountable for its unjustified trade barriers, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is setting an important precedent on enforcement.

India has denied market access to U.S. dairy products since 2003, despite receiving preferential access to the U.S. market under a special duty-free trade arrangement called the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). Over those years, India has cited a variety of shifting reasons as the basis for its illicit trade barriers, including unscientific restrictions on U.S. livestock feeding practices, said the Arlington, Va.-based dairy organizations.

“For 16 years, India has enjoyed unilateral access to U.S. markets while flaunting their obligation to provide fair market access mandated under the GSP program, and harming American dairy farmers in the process,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF’s president and CEO. “The administration has sent a clear message: Abide by free and fair trade practices or face the consequences.”

Tom Vilsack, chairman and CEO of USDEC, said the U.S. dairy industry “strongly welcomes” USTR’s enforcement action.

“[The industry] hopes that it sets the precedent that unfair trade practices will not be tolerated and compliance enforcement measures will be utilized when warranted,” he said.

The U.S. dairy industry has worked alongside the U.S. government for years with the goal of coming to a mutually beneficial resolution with the Indian government. However, India has failed to engage in good-faith negotiations to restore market access for U.S. dairy exports. USDEC and NMPF said they submitted comments to the USTR in September 2017 urging the USTR to use congressional-mandated compliance requirements to modify India’s GSP status.