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April 11, 2016

U.S. Dairy Groups Urge Congress to Pass TPP

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) sent a joint letter to Congress today urging the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership  (TPP) trade agreement.

After months of analysis, all three organizations have endorsed TPP, and are now putting their lobbying muscle behind those endorsements to have Congress ratify the agreement.

“The geographical indications (generic food names) provisions in TPP, for the first time, establish a more equitable process for considering GIs and emphasize the importance of safeguarding usage of common food names,” the letter said. “This is a key priority for our industry as we face the European Union’s global efforts to wield GIs as nontariff barriers to trade in order to limit competition and market access from U.S. suppliers.”

But the three groups also point out that countries such as Canada and Japan must also meet the terms of both existing agreements and TPP before the trade agreements will be successful.

“The fine print in implementing TPP really matters. We are endorsing the outlines of the agreement, but will continue to insist that the terms agreed to need to be followed by the other countries in this agreement. The U.S. needs to be continually vigilant with the TPP signatories and really hold their feet to the fire both now and down the road,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.

“The SPS and GI commitments in particular should help keep in check the ability of countries to erode existing and future market access for U.S. dairy exporters through arbitrary, unjustified and oftentimes sudden regulatory determinations,” adds Tom Suber, president of USDEC. “But for them to live up to their potential we need to ensure our trading partners realize we’re serious about their compliance with these pieces.”

“The successful negotiation and implementation of ambitious trade agreements like TPP are vital to the future growth of America’s dairy industry,” says Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. “For those benefits to be realized, however, it’s imperative that our trading partners be held accountable and live up to their current and future commitments.”

Read the full contents of the letter to Congress here.