Dairy farmers and cooperatives represented by the National Milk Producers Federation or the U.S. Dairy Export Council on Tuesday threatened to withdraw support from the pending Trans-Pacific trade agreement if Japan and Canada refuse to provide comprehensive market access for U.S. dairy products.
NMPF and USDEC say comprehensive market access in all dairy tariff lines with both nations will ensure that the TPP represents an agreement that can be held up as a model for future agreements.
"USDEC has been one of the most vocal champions of the importance of including Japan and Canada in TPP since these markets offer strong opportunities for our members to expand U.S. dairy exports," said Tom Suber, President of USDEC.
"However, it is critical that their participation in TPP be meaningful and comprehensive across all dairy products. It is entirely unacceptable to have such sizable, sophisticated economies refusing to undertake the necessary openness that they agreed to upon entering TPP."
Additional countries involved in TPP negotiations include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Together, the 12 countries involved account for nearly 40% of global GDP.
Dairy groups' patience on the negotiations has been waning since the beginning of the year, when Japan remained firm on its requests for tariff exemptions of "sensitive" products, like imported rice, wheat, beef, pork, dairy products and sugar.
Last week, an assortment of farm groups suggested that Japan should be eliminated from talks completely, if the country refuses to budge on its exemption requests.
In the most recent letter, says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, dairy interests made clear to U.S. Trade Ambassador Michael Froman and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that the industry wants to see strong outcomes on market access with Japan and Canada, and the industry "remains prepared to match the level of ambition of those countries."
"To be successful, any eventual TPP agreement must result in more open dairy markets in Japan and Canada," Mulhern said.
In addition to urging U.S. negotiators to remain focused on opening up the Japanese and Canadian dairy markets, members of both organizations also stressed the importance of addressing the lingering impacts of New Zealand government dairy policies that they say have intentionally advantaged a single national champion at the expense of other competitors.
NMPF and USDEC members expressed strong hopes that TPP negotiations will result in a final package that can garner the endorsement of the U.S. dairy industry without requiring a re-examination of the industry's support for Trade Promotion Authority as a critical tool in the approval of well-negotiated trade agreements.