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Trade Agreement Partners Colombia, Panama Weigh Dairy Import Restrictions

March 2, 2021

NMPF, working in concert with USDEC, provided early warning to U.S. trade officials in February regarding brewing safeguard tariff and regulatory threats in two key U.S. Free Trade Agreement partners’ markets: Panama and Colombia. In discussions with USTR and USDA officials in February, NMPF and USDEC underscored the importance of preserving commitments made by each country through the free trade agreements in place with the U.S. for nearly a decade.

Sparked by growing protectionist sentiment among domestic dairy interests, the Colombian and Panamanian governments are faced with calls to apply tariff safeguards on imported cheese and milk powder from the U.S. In the case of Panama, government official have used safeguard tariffs on certain cheese and yogurt products since imports have reached levels that automatically trigger the permissible safeguards under the FTA. In the case of Colombia, local dairy producers are campaigning for safeguard tariffs to be levied on U.S. milk powder imports, a move that would upend U.S. access to its 10th-largest export market. Additionally, each government is considering labeling and other regulatory changes aimed at making U.S. dairy imports more difficult.

As both countries consider protectionist measures, NMPF will continue to work with USDEC and the U.S. government to preserve access to these markets.