Trade issues will continue to be a central focus for the Trump administration, as well as IDFA and its members, in the new year. In January alone, three significant actions have the potential to affect IDFA members that export dairy products and import product supplies from companies outside the United States.
Negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico will meet Jan. 23-28 in Montreal for a sixth round of talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO, is the dairy processor representative on the U.S. Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, and he will be on call during the talks to advise U.S. officials on dairy industry priorities and participate in committee discussions.
In addition, IDFA is currently working with the CEOs of member companies to place pro-trade opinion pieces in national and regional news outlets. Two of these articles were featured last month in The Wall Street Journal and Yakima Herald-Republic in Washington state.
While an end to the talks is not yet in sight, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in November remarks that it would be difficult to finalize the talks if they extend past March of 2018.
Negotiators from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and South Korea will meet this Friday in Washington, D.C., to open a formal discussion on changes to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). South Korea represents the fourth-largest market for U.S. dairy exports.
When the White House considered withdrawing from the agreement last September, IDFA asked members to urge their governors to let the administration know they were opposed to withdrawing from the agreement. In a Washington Post article published at the time, Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA, said abandoning the agreement would put the U.S. dairy industry at risk of facing steep tariffs, which would increase the price of cheese sold in South Korea by 36 percent. Cheese is the top export, accounting for $170 million of the $231 million in dairy exports to the country in 2016.
While monitoring the talks, IDFA will look for opportunities to stress the importance of maintaining a strong trade relationship with South Korea.
IDFA also expects the International Trade Commission to announce next week its preliminary injury determination on imports of aluminum sheet from China. The determination is the first step in the anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations initiated by the White House in November.
IDFA anticipates additional action on aluminum from the White House and continues to monitor the situation to assess the impact that these steps may have on the dairy industry. According to the Aluminum Association, the current investigations exclude the types of aluminum used to make cans, lids or tabs for the food and beverage industry.
For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at email@example.com.