The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), both headquartered in Arlington, Va., urged the Biden administration to work to eliminate foreign tariffs on — and nontariff impediments to — U.S. exports, following the March 31 release by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) of the “2021 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers.”
The annual report looks at progress made and challenges remaining on U.S. trade, investment and services in countries around the globe, the organizations said. Compiled from information from USTR, interagency partners and public stakeholders, this year’s report covers 65 countries and regions, including Arab League nations, the European Union (EU), key Asian markets and important Western Hemisphere destinations for U.S. dairy products.
USDEC and NMPF said they submitted comments on the major trade obstacles facing the U.S. dairy industry last October, pointing out that tariffs and nontariff barriers in many countries remain significant roadblocks to American dairy exports. Several of those concerns were incorporated in USTR’s report, including dairy trade issues in Mexico, Canada, China and the EU, among others.
“Exports are extremely important to the U.S. dairy industry, which shipped more than $6.5 billion of product to destinations worldwide in 2020,” said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC. “Obstacles to those exports negatively affect the economic well-being of America’s dairy farmers and jeopardize dairy processing jobs and workers throughout the supply chain who support our industry. These barriers must be removed.”
USDEC and NMPF in their comments focused on barriers in key dairy export markets such as Canada, China, the EU and Mexico. Among the bigger obstacles cited by the organizations were the misuse of geographical indications (GIs) and unscientific import requirements and mandates.
On GIs, for example, the EU has sought to effectively monopolize common cheese terms by attempting to prohibit American cheesemakers from using names such as Asiago, feta, Gorgonzola, Gruyere and Parmesan and keep out imports of U.S.-made cheeses with those names, not only in EU nations, but in other countries as well, the organizations said.
“We need USTR to continue pressing our trading partners to eliminate tariffs and nontariff barriers that restrict our dairy exports,” added Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “The best way to do that is by implementing new Free Trade Agreements and enforcing existing agreements.”
The EU also is a leading offender in employing prescriptive requirements to limit imports, including dairy products, imposing, for example, specific animal disease oversight and documentation procedures and limiting the use of veterinary drugs and commonly used antimicrobials, the organizations said. These are the kinds of barriers USDEC and NMPF urge USTR to remove to ensure exports of U.S. dairy products are available to consumers around the world and to protect the millions of American jobs supported by the U.S. dairy industry.