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Dairy Facts 2016

Trade News: U.S. Dairy Access to Japan Uncertain, Position on GIs Made Clear to EU Negotiators

May 29, 2014

Trade News is a periodic update that provides a concise compilation of current trade happenings and their impact on the dairy industry. This week's column by Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, discusses negotiations surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Negotiations among the twelve countries are continuing. The TPP partners released a joint statement on the ministerial meeting held in Singapore last week. U.S. negotiators including Darci Vetter, current deputy under secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, participated. Senate confirmation is pending to confirm Vetter as the new U.S. chief agriculture negotiator.

Access for several agriculture commodities, including dairy, that Japan deems sensitive remain the sticking point in negotiations between the U.S. and Japan. According to several news outlets including a recent Wall Street Journal article, Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari said Japan "cannot commit to complete tariff elimination for sensitive farm items.” IDFA expects meaningful market access to Japan and Canada in the TPP negotiations and will continue to push for a deal that benefits the U.S. dairy industry.

Just yesterday, IDFA and four other organizations – the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Pork Producers Council, the USA Rice Federation and the U.S. Wheat Associates – issued a statement urging U.S. negotiators to push Japan to provide meaningful agricultural market access in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. “Failing that, the alternative is suspending negotiations with Japan for now and concluding a truly comprehensive agreement with those TPP partners that are willing to meet the originally contemplated level of ambition,” the statement said.

Acting Deputy USTR Wendy Cutler will meet with Ambassador Hiroshi Oe of Japan on May 29-30 regarding TPP market access issues focusing on agriculture.

TPP Ministers have agreed to meet again in July. A timeline for completion is still unknown.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP)

The fifth round of T-TIP talks were held last week in Arlington, Va. Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president, presented at the stakeholder policy event outlining the U.S. dairy industry’s position on geographical indications to U.S. and EU negotiators, other business organizations and members of the media.

Hough’s presentation centered on protecting common food names for use by U.S. dairy companies. Noting that the U.S. dairy industry is not opposed to legitimate GIs, Hough said, “The EU’s recent GI strategy is incompatible with the fundamental goal of a trade negotiation, which is to remove trade barriers—not add them—and allow for greater competition. T-TIP should not be a vehicle to deny U.S. dairy companies the use of common food names.”

This issue has garnered tremendous support from Congress. In March, 55 senators signed a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to reject the EU’s attempt in T-TIP negotiations to claim exclusive use of common cheese names, both in the United States and abroad. Earlier this month, 177 House Members sent a similar letter to Froman and Vilsack, highlighting how the EU uses GIs to “carve out exclusive market access for its own producers.”

Following the round, Dan Mullaney, the chief U.S. negotiator, and Ignacio Garcia Bercero, the chief EU negotiator held a press conference. The transcript is available here.

In addition, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman released a statement calling the T-TIP negotiations “productive.” 

Geographical Indications and China

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), one of the 55 legislators who signed the letter in March, sent a separate letter to Ambassador Froman and Secretary Vilsack, urging them to preserve opportunities for New York State cheese exports to China and other Asian nations. Schumer called attention to the trade agreement that the EU is currently negotiating with China, which aims to stop non-EU products with commonly used names like “muenster,” “parmesan,” or “feta” from being sold in China.

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