For Immediate Release
Dairy Processors Support U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement
(Washington, D.C. — April 9, 2008) The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) today expressed strong support for the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement that President Bush sent yesterday to Congress for fast-track approval. IDFA also voiced its disappointment with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) announced intention to change House rules for trade negotiating authority and indefinitely delay the vote.
"We have consistently supported this agreement since it was inked in 2006 and renegotiated last year. It's definitely time for the pact to receive an up-or-down vote based on its merits, which are many for the dairy industry," said IDFA President and CEO Connie Tipton. "Playing political games and changing the rules in midstream will only hinder our country's ability to broker fair and effective trade agreements with international partners in the future."
Exports have become increasingly important to the U.S. dairy industry, and IDFA strongly supports free trade agreements that will increase market access for dairy products. Over the last five years, the value of U.S. dairy product exports has tripled, reaching a record high of $3 billion in 2007. U.S. dairy exports to Colombia in 2007 were valued at $6.6 million.
According to the pact, Colombia would immediately eliminate tariffs on nearly 52% of U.S. agriculture trade upon implementation and phase out the remaining tariffs within 15 years. U.S. dairy exporters would gain immediate duty-free, quota-free access for whey and lactose exports, as well as increased quotas for cheese, ice cream and processed dairy products.
U.S. companies also would be allowed to import an additional 50,000 metric tons of sugar under the agreement. Colombia currently is permitted to export at least 25,000 metric tons of sugar under World Trade Organization rules.
"The United States has become a serious player in the global trade for dairy products, and decreasing foreign trade barriers is the key to increasing our exports," Tipton said. "Under this agreement, our dairy exports would be poised for far greater growth."
# # #
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, DC, represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 530 companies representing a $90-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% of the milk, cultured products, cheese and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States. IDFA can be found online at www.idfa.org