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NMPF Urges Washington to Prioritize Dairy in China Negotiations

April 10, 2019

With the outcome of trade negotiations with China still uncertain, NMPF is taking proactive steps to engage with President Trump, his administration and policymakers to ensure that dairy-industry priorities receive top consideration in negotiations with China.

Negotiations with China, once aimed toward a March conclusion, are certain to continue well into spring. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer traveled to Beijing last month to resume trade talks, while Chinese officials returned to Washington at the beginning of April. NMPF remains hopeful that a constructive outcome is near, with an agreement between Presidents Trump and Xi that could be signed within the next few months.

NMPF, the U.S. Dairy Export Council and allied groups are working to help shape an agreement that further opens China’s market to U.S. dairy products and rolls back trade barriers, including securing the removal of all retaliatory tariffs against dairy.

Toward this end, NMPF recently worked with the US Dairy Export Council to spearhead two letters to President Trump. One letter, signed by 49 food and agriculture groups, explained that a deal that maintains retaliatory tariffs could negate any trade gains. “As part of your negotiations, we are asking that your Administration prioritize the removal of all retaliatory tariffs and make their immediate elimination a mandatory condition of any successful trade agreement,” we wrote. “Quickly restoring access to the Chinese market for agriculture products is a top priority for America’s farmers, agribusinesses and food manufacturer as negative impacts will continue to compound the longer that our trade relationship with China remains in question.”

The other letter, sent by NMPF, USDEC and the International Dairy Foods Association, delivered a dairy-specific message on the importance of securing strong results for the sector in the trade negotiations and providing for more market access to China for dairy products.

China’s retaliatory tariffs, levied in response to U.S. Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods, have resulted in strongly negative repercussions for dairy in particular. U.S. cheese exports to China, which had been on pace to exceed records during the first half of 2018, dropped by 45 percent after retaliatory tariffs were imposed.

An agreement with China that prioritizes the removal of retaliatory tariffs, increased purchase of U.S. dairy products and removal of trade barriers will allow our industry to reclaim and increase our market share. NMPF’s focus is to encourage actions that will add momentum for immediate action to resolve this trade dispute.