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Tariffs on EU Dairy Products on the Table

June 11, 2019

NMPF sought to highlight the deep imbalance in U.S.-EU dairy trade by supporting the U.S. Trade Representative’s proposal to impose retaliatory tariffs on European dairy imports if Europe continues to flout its WTO subsidy commitments.

Europe has been found to have doled out unfair aircraft subsidies to Airbus by a World Trade Organization court, with damages to U.S. business of $11 billion, according to U.S. estimates. The WTO is assessing the size of the retaliatory tariffs it is willing to authorize the U.S. to levy against EU exports should the EU not comply with the WTO ruling. USTR anticipates a decision this summer.

European dairy products feature prominently on USTR’s intended retaliation list, a smart move according to National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern.

“We have a unique opportunity to make a big dent in the dairy market access gap we face with Europe,” Mulhern told USTR during testimony on May 15. “Including EU cheeses, yogurt, and butter on this list, as USTR has proposed, is entirely warranted, and we would encourage you to add additional EU dairy-related tariff lines,” he said. Doing so “would bring increased attention to the gross inequities that currently define our dairy trading relationship.”

The United States is currently running a $1.6 billion dairy trade deficit with Europe. A complex web of EU tariffs and nontariff obstacles, including Geographic Indication restrictions, are largely to blame.

“It is essential that America deliver a clear and powerful message across the pond,” Mulhern concluded. “Subsidies and barriers that handicap U.S. businesses in the global marketplace will not be tolerated. And the days of trade deficits induced by unfair trade practices are coming to an end.”