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Ways & Means Chair Highlights NMPF Concern on GIs, Trade Barriers

July 2, 2014

In separate mid-June comments, the chairmen of both the House Ways and Means Committee and its trade subcommittee expressed strong opposition to European Union efforts to use geographical indications to restrict the use of generic food names. They also underscored the importance of securing favorable outcomes for the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, particularly with Japan on agricultural issues.

Both Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI, pictured above) and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said U.S.-EU negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are important opportunities but only if progress is made on eliminating barriers to agriculture exports.

Camp, speaking to the Global Business Dialogue, an international business group focused on trade, said the EU must follow through on pledges to eliminate its agriculture tariffs and address food safety barriers not based on science. In addition, he said, “We must also end the EU’s improper use of GIs to block U.S. exports to Europe and third countries.”

Nunes, opening a hearing on expanding U.S. farm trade, said he was “particularly concerned” about improper European use of GIs to restrict on the use of generic food names. “This threatens the U.S. dairy industry and cannot be tolerated,” he added. 

TTIP negotiations are scheduled to resume this month in Brussels, where NPPF staff will meet with EU representatives on both geographical indications and other dairy issues.

On separate negotiations over the Pacific trade agreement, also resuming this month, both Camp and Nunes stressed the importance of securing access to Japan’s agricultural market.

NMPF Chairman Randy Mooney discussed increased access to both the Japanese and Canadian dairy markets with New Zealand Trade Minister Timothy Groser during Groser’s visit to Washington in June. Like NMPF, New Zealand favors opening the Japanese dairy market through the Trans Pacific Partnership.  Early in June more than three dozen U.S. dairy companies, all members of NMPF or the U.S. Dairy Export Council, threatened to withdraw support from TPP if Japan and Canada refuse to follow through on pledges to provide comprehensive market access for U.S. dairy products.