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Pressure Mounts for EU to End Agriculture Trade Deficit

April 10, 2019

With policies that include both high tariffs and onerous non-tariff barriers to trade, such as complex and excessive import requirements and bans on the use of common food names, it’s no surprise that the European Union would want to keep agriculture out of negotiations for a free-trade agreement with the U.S. NMPF and its congressional allies are working to ensure that doesn’t happen, pointing to a lopsided trade imbalance in dairy as one reason that EU hypocrisy must end before broader trade progress occurs.

The EU exports approximately $1.5 billion in dairy to the United States each year, compared to $100 million in U.S. shipments to the EU. Wanting to lock in that advantage – the product of protectionist policies — the EU is already insisting that discussing agriculture is off the table before formal negotiations begin on any trade deal. NMPF and industry stakeholders are making it clear that an “agriculture-free” model for a free-trade agreement would be unacceptable and that any agreement with the EU must address the above-mentioned drivers of the U.S. dairy deficit.

Congress has taken notice as well.

Representatives Ron Kind (Wis.), Jackie Walorski (Ind.), Virginia Foxx (NC) and Angie Craig (Minn.) led a letter to the USTR dated March 14 emphasizing that agriculture must be included in upcoming negotiations. The letter attracted signatures from 114 members of Congress who wrote that “agriculture is the source of a great number of trade barriers and irritants in the U.S.-EU trading relationship. Thus, an agreement with the EU that does not address trade in agriculture would be, in our eyes, unacceptable.”

NMPF conducted outreach to House members allied with dairy to help secure support for this important message to U.S. negotiators. The organization will continue working to ensure that any potential trade deal with the EU is focused on narrowing the U.S. dairy trade deficit with the EU, not on worsening it.