January 7, 2011
IDFA Commends U.S. Administration's Plan to Resolve NAFTA Trucking Dispute
Contact: Peggy Armstrong
(January 7, 2011 - Washington, D.C.) The International Dairy Foods Association commends the announcement yesterday by the U.S. Department of Transportation of a concept document that details a U.S.-Mexico cross-border, long-haul trucking program to address safety concerns and U.S. compliance with trade obligations to Mexico. The proposal is a first step in solving a longstanding dispute that has resulted in Mexico levying tariffs on U.S. exports, including many cheeses.
"This announcement is a very welcome first step," said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president. "IDFA will continue to work with other stakeholders to support a lifting of the trucking ban, while also continuing to explore venues, such as working with the Mexican government, to reduce or eliminate the tariffs affecting dairy products."
The tariffs have legally been in place since March of 2009 as a result of U.S. failure to comply with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) obligations to allow Mexican trucks to cross into the United States due to safety concerns. IDFA has actively pushed for a resolution to the issue because Mexico constitutes the largest export market for U.S. dairy products. Since tariffs on several American cheeses were added to Mexico's retaliation list last August, sales of the targeted cheeses have been down 66 percent through November of last year.
As a next step, IDFA supports an active dialogue between the two governments that will result in a mutually acceptable and long-term resolution that will comply with U.S. trade commitments and end the tariffs. IDFA also urges Congress to support administration efforts to reach a permanent resolution to the dispute.
When the expanded tariffs affecting U.S. cheeses were first announced in August 2010, IDFA worked with Mexican officials to reduce the initially proposed tariff rate of 125 percent to 25 percent.
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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 550 companies representing a $110-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's 220 dairy processing members run more than 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States.