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U.S. Dairy Industry Provides Preliminary Assessment of Trans Pacific Partnership

February 3, 2016

Testifying on behalf of the U.S. Dairy Export Council and NMPF, USDEC President Tom Suber told the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) last month that the U.S. dairy sector is completing its evaluation of the potential impact of the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement finalized last fall.  NMPF and USDEC have collaborated closely on TPP to present a united U.S. dairy industry view on the agreement.  

USITC held three days of hearings to gather information for an economic analysis of TPP as mandated by Trade Promotion Authority legislation. That analysis includes the agreement’s impact on specific business sectors, such as agriculture. The dairy industry testimony, following detailed written comments to USITC submitted jointly by USDEC and NMPF in December, outlined the U.S. dairy sector’s issues and concerns related to TPP.

NMPF’s economic analysis of the market access elements of TPP remains underway. Thus, Suber’s testimony focused on landmark non-tariff achievements in the agreement dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules and geographical indication (GI) provisions. TPP is the first U.S. trade agreement to include rules and disciplines on SPS measures that go beyond those contained in the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement. Furthermore, prior to TPP, U.S. trade deals were virtually silent on GIs. TPP’s groundbreaking GI provisions are intended to establish a more equitable international model for dealing with GI registration, in sharp contrast to the flawed European Union approach that uses GIs as bargaining chips for market access.

The joint submission also identified a number of additional factors pertinent to USITC’s assessment efforts, and urged the agency to take them into account. Those factors include TPP’s impact on U.S. exports in existing free trade partner markets such as Mexico and Peru, in light of competition from Australia and New Zealand; the impact of U.S. tariff elimination on milk powders and cheeses; the expected level of exports from Canada to the United States; the likelihood of obstructive regulatory barriers; the degree of flexibility created by the agreement’s rules of origin; and the use of new TPP safeguard provisions by the United States.