The Arlington, Va.-based U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), San José, Costa Rica, renewed their partnership to bolster cooperation and collaboration between the two groups to promote and harmonize science-based regulations across food and agriculture trade policies. The announcement reflects a recommitment to the broader principles first unveiled three years ago, USDEC said, when the two groups signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU). The addendum to the MOU signed on April 5 extends the partnership for an additional three years and updates the agreement’s language to include a greater focus on collaboration on sustainability and food systems issues.

“It is successful partnerships like these that help deliver science-based regulations, while reducing unnecessary trade barriers,” said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC. “Our recent trip to Colombia and Peru reinforced the exceptional importance of this region, and we are proud to extend this partnership with IICA.”

U.S. dairy exports to Latin America grew 17% last year, based on USDEC data. Total U.S. exports to Latin America grew 37%, the fastest growth across any region in 2021, USDEC said.

“We grow stronger when our region is able to speak with one voice. That is why it is essential we work together to harmonize science-based health, safety, sustainability and quality standards,” said Manuel Otero, director general of IICA. “We are delighted to build upon the continued success of our previous cooperation with USDEC.”

The agreement signed with IICA also complements an agreement USDEC previously signed with the Pan American Dairy Federation, which provides USDEC with an additional channel to communicate and engage with stakeholders in Latin America.

“IICA has long been a leader in the region, delivering technical support and expertise throughout the Americas,” said Jaime Castaneda, executive vice president of policy development and strategy for USDEC. “As the world’s attention continues to turn to sustainability, IICA is perfectly positioned to continue that leadership, offering the tools nations need to ensure new regulations are grounded in science.”