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U.S., Mexico dairy industries united on NAFTA

The neighboring industries are jointly calling for NAFTA to protect and enhance free dairy trade, while rejecting Canadian and EU trade-distorting practices.
Carol Ryan Dumas

Capital Press

Published on August 30, 2017 9:24AM

On the heels of the first round of NAFTA renegotiations, the U.S. and Mexican dairy industries have solidified their strong partnership and agreed on a list of shared priorities for a revamped trade pact.

Canada, on the other hand, is the odd man out, with the U.S. and Mexico taking aim at what they call trade-distorting policies on dairy.

Officials from the U.S. Dairy Export Council and National Milk Producers Federation met with representatives from Mexico’s dairy industry last week in Guadalajara for their second annual summit to expand on collaboration while preserving current trade.

Ensuring the free flow of dairy products, preserving existing market access and eliminating any possible barriers top the list of the two industries’ priorities.

“We want to strengthen our relationship as Mexico’s most trusted dairy trading partner so we can continue to work together for the benefit of dairy sectors on both sides of the border,” Tom Vilsack, USDEC President and CEO, said in a press release from Guadalajara.

“That goal is all the more essential given other nations’ efforts to pursue harmful and disruptive approaches to dairy trade with Mexico … ,” he said.

Through direct negotiation with Mexico, the European Union is seeking to impose new barriers to dairy trade through the abuse of geographic indications to give itself exclusive use of common cheese names, such as asiago, gorgonzola and feta.

The industries agreed to continue working to defend common food names, especially with regard to bilateral trade agreements.

Canada is also disrupting dairy trade with a new milk-pricing system that dumps artificially low-cost milk powder in global markets. That scheme intentionally undercuts U.S. dairy protein exports to world markets and harms dairy producers in the U.S., Mexico and around the world by artificially lowering world market prices, said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO.

In addition, Canada has retained sky-high tariffs on dairy imports and has implemented other policies that hinder free trade between North American neighbors.

The industries agree they will strongly urge their respective governments to seek full inclusion of Canada’s dairy trade provisions within NAFTA and express their concern over that country’s new milk-pricing system.

“We are very pleased that our friends in Mexico have joined us in expressing opposition to the abusive attempts of the European Union to confiscate common food names, as well as the trade-distorting practices of Canada at a time when we are working to facilitate new opportunities throughout North America,” Mulhern said.

The industries also agreed to further technical discussions on the sanitation standards used by both nations to help dairy industry participants on both sides of the border better understand the rules and regulations that affect dairy trade between the two nations.

They also agreed to strengthen cooperation in terms of technological exchange and training in regard to milk production, quality and nutrition; continue to exchange developments in the dairy sector; and jointly promote dairy consumption in Mexico.


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