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Administration, Congress Agree on Free Trade Principles

May 29, 2007

Administration, Congress Agree on Free Trade Principles

After months of negotiations, the Bush administration and Congress reached agreement earlier this month on a range of new trade provisions dealing with environmental and labor issues that will be included in all free trade agreements (FTA) now awaiting congressional approval. IDFA supports these agreements, because they will increase global market access for U.S. dairy products. Last year, the value of U.S. dairy exports reached a record high of $1.8 billion.

"We are pleased that this deal will pave the way for congressional approval of at least two pending FTAs, one with Panama and the other with Peru," said Clay Hough, IDFA senior vice president. "Although U.S. dairy exports continue to face high tariff barriers abroad, we believe FTAs are an excellent way to increase our competitiveness in foreign markets."

Democratic legislators, who now control Congress, have long sought to include international labor and environmental protection standards in free trade agreements. With a number of pending FTAs waiting for congressional approval, it's widely believed that the administration had no choice but to address these concerns.

While the new provisions are expected to garner the votes needed to pass pending agreements with Peru and Panama, legislators have voiced concerns about similar agreements with Colombia and South Korea. Some congressional leaders have questioned the continued violence and hints of possible paramilitary involvement by the government in Colombia. Others are opposed to dealing with South Korea while the country continues its ban on certain U.S. beef exports and maintains barriers to entry for U.S. automobiles.

For more information, contact Helen Medina, IDFA manager of international affairs at or 202-220-3507.

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Posted May 29, 2007

Dairy Delivers