NMPF Engages on Multiple Trade Fronts with USTR Submissions
February 4, 2020
While USMCA, China and Japan have dominated trade conversations, NMPF has remained active on multiple other trade-policy fronts affecting dairy exports, including several sets of comments on issues critical to the U.S. dairy industry pending before the U.S. Trade Representative.
NMPF submitted comments to USTR on Dec. 30, as France considers a Digital Services Tax, regarding proposed retaliatory tariffs to ensure that a final list of duties imposed as retaliation against France’s tax includes high-value dairy tariff lines. France is currently pausing its pursuit of the tax. In conjunction with that filing, Dr. Peter Vitaliano, NMPF’s Vice President for Economic Policy and Market Research, testified before USTR on Jan. 7, explaining how France’s unjust trade barriers on dairy products have unduly restricted U.S. dairy exports.
One of the most egregious of these trade barriers is the European Union (EU)’s aggressive use of geographical indications (GIs) to prohibit U.S. exports of common name cheeses. France strongly supports the EU’s stance on GIs and has used these restrictions to erect de facto trade barriers on U.S. imports. Examples of French GIs include common cheese terms such as muenster, gruyere, and neufchatel.
NMPF also submitted comments to USTR on Jan. 13 regarding the retaliatory tariffs issued in response to the EU’s ongoing lack of compliance with the World Trade Organization ruling on European Airbus subsidies. NMPF urged USTR to retain all dairy tariff lines and increase ad valorem duties to 100 percent on certain tariff lines.
As USTR evaluates candidates for heightened tariff levels, NMPF strongly recommends it place a high priority on tariff lines under which common name cheeses are categorized, as well as tariff lines for butter imports because of its significant commercial value to the EU.
Indonesia in sight
NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council also submitted comments on Jan. 17 to USTR on Indonesia’s adherence to its market access commitments under a special duty-free trade arrangement called the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). NMPF staff also testified on Jan. 31 at a USTR-led hearing on the issue.
Indonesia is a top-10 export market for U.S. dairy products and a valuable trading partner. Still, Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture has raised regulatory barriers that have blocked the registration of new U.S. dairy facilities and hindered U.S. dairy exports from companies seeking to expand their ability to ship to this key market. NMPF and USDEC have asked USTR to continue its review of Indonesia’s GSP commitments in hopes that a constructive solution can be found quickly.