Trade Negotiations

In part because of strong dairy industry participation in the negotiating process, nearly every U.S. free trade agreement to date has yielded positive results for dairy—helping to expand our trade surplus billions of dollars. Current negotiations hold potential to grow that surplus even more.

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The U.S. Dairy Council supports the TTP, while emphasizing the critical need for the United States to follow through on several key enforcement and implementation issues with TPP countries.

Although the TPP is not a perfect agreement, USDEC finds that the agreement merits the industry's support. Given a market access result that yielded on balance an outcome that was neutral to slightly positive, the primary benefits of TPP rest in its new provisions on SPS commitments and in new Geographical Indication disciplines that seek to help preserve the use of common food names. In addition, the agreement's intention to continue to expand to include additional countries is a key factor. 

USDEC will continue to monitor the progress of the TPP in order to provide timely and up-to-date information for our members. In addition, USDEC is also keenly focused on ensuring the critical enforcement and implementation issues with TPP countries are sufficiently addressed by the Administration. 

Interested in learning more about the TPP?

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

The goal in these negotiations is to address the $1.3-billion imbalance in U.S.-EU dairy trade due to EU trade barriers, as well as to roll back the EU’s efforts to expand its restrictive system of geographical indications (GIs).

USDEC has highlighted the tilted playing field in U.S.-EU dairy trade. Specifically, the EU enjoys a country-specific tariff rate quota for dairy access to the United States while we have no such similar preferential access to EU countries. In addition, U.S. certification requirements for the vast majority of EU dairy products are relatively nominal, while we face multiple regulatory burdens, such as those connected to somatic cell count requirements, and certificate demands unrelated to sanitary and phytosanitary obligations.

More broadly troublesome is the EU’s subscription to the “precautionary principle,” which relies on the mere identification of a potential or perceived risk, public perceptions and political considerations rather than science-based evidence to set regulations. The precautionary principle is widely used today and remains an open door to future non-tariff barriers.

The EU’s GI campaign has already successfully erected non-tariff barriers to U.S. cheese exports via bilateral FTAs in South Korea, South America and Central America. In addition, talks are ongoing in the Middle East and Asia, where the EU is seeking to erect barriers in those regions as well.

Through TTIP, the bloc is now seeking to limit U.S. cheesemakers’ use of names like feta here in the United States. Its pattern of steadily expanding its crusade to an ever-wider list of cheese names and ever-broader geography leaves little doubt that it will seek further restrictions in the future.

USDEC is not against the idea of GIs, but is strongly against the bloc’s efforts to overreach and extend such protections to cheeses that are clearly generic terms used around the world for decades.