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Upcoming Trade Talks Hold Potential for Growth

December 12, 2018

Pending trade talks with Japan, the European Union and the United Kingdom – if pursued with the right goals in mind – hold promise for greater for U.S. dairy exports.  The U.S. dairy industry plans to take an active role in crafting agreements, and NMPF is working on providing officials direction to help shape those negotiations to best align with dairy-producer priorities.

The United States and Japan announced in September that they would hold bilateral trade talks, a move that set aside the threat of tariffs on Japanese auto imports as part of an ongoing U.S. assessment of national security issues related to trade in that sector.

The goal for U.S. negotiators is to gain better access to the Japanese market for agriculture goods, including dairy, in which American producers have faced high import tariffs. This is particularly vital as Japan moves ahead with implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (the successor treaty to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which the United States didn’t join) this month and its agreement with the EU next year. Collectively, the two treaties will increase access to one of the largest export markets for the three biggest U.S. dairy competitors, making it more important for the United States to swiftly secure terms of trade that exceed those prior agreements and keep U.S. dairy products competitive in Japan.

NMPF’s Jaime Castaneda testified about the proposed U.S.-Japan agreement at the International Trade Commission hearing on Dec. 6, explaining why Japanese market access must increase and why those gains must be greater than those offered under the CPTPP or EU-Japan agreement. NMPF staff will also testify before the U.S. Trade Representative on Dec. 10.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern will also testify at a hearing later this month regarding planned talks between the EU and the United States, arguing that agricultural issues deserve a seat at the table in any comprehensive trade agreement, a position the EU disputes. In other negotiations, talks between the United States and the United Kingdom still contain many unknowns, but the dairy industry is poised to keep U.S. farmer interests in front of trade negotiators, pointing out how vital it is that such a deal tackle the full range of constraints U.S. exporters may face in selling to the UK.