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Dairy Facts 2016

USTR Solicits Comments on NAFTA Modernization Goals

May 31, 2017

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) last week published a Federal Register notice asking for public comment on negotiating objectives regarding the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The notice is the second step in the process to negotiate updates to the 23-year-old trade agreement.

IDFA plans to submit comments before the June 12 deadline and is soliciting feedback from member companies.

“USTR is asking for detailed information in a number of areas important to our industry, including remaining tariffs, non-tariff barriers, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, intellectual property rights and more,” said Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs. “A modernized NAFTA must protect existing market access and push forward where the agreement failed. We need to hear members’ top priorities to make that happen.”

To provide feedback, contact Hughes at

U.S. Dairy Working Together

IDFA, the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council have repeatedly urged administration officials and legislators to focus on maintaining what has worked well, such as trade with Mexico, the top market for U.S. dairy exports. The dairy groups have also continued to call for improving market access to Canada and tackling that country’s expanding list of protectionist policies and other barriers to U.S. dairy exports.

IDFA will continue to stress trade implications for the industry and its modernization priorities with the new administration, as well as update member companies during each step of the modernization process.

After the public comment period, USTR will hold a NAFTA Public Hearing on June 27 and publish an official document with its NAFTA negotiating objectives on July 17. Formal negotiations could begin as early as August 16.

For more information, read “Request for Comments on Negotiating Objectives Regarding Modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement With Canada and Mexico.”

NAFTA Modernization in Motion

USTR Robert Lighthizer initially set the modernization process in action last month with a notification letter sent to Congress. In the letter, the Ambassador outlined some of the areas of the agreement that are either outdated or missing – several of which are important to the U.S. dairy industry – and reaffirmed commitment to pursuing the trade priorities outlined by TPA, including goals related to market access and curbing the abuse of geographical indications. He also emphasized the importance of effectively implementing and aggressively enforcing the commitments made by Canada and Mexico, two of the dairy industry’s top trade partners. 

IDFA supported Ambassador Lighthizer’s quick action, which was one of his first moves since taking office in early May.

Read more in “Dairy Industry Welcomes Swift Action by USTR Lighthizer to Launch NAFTA Modernization Efforts.”

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