The fourth round of talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), begin today in Washington, D.C., where negotiators are set to discuss dairy issues among the agreement’s three countries, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. In remarks last week to the Washington International Trade Association, Secretary Perdue confirmed the negotiators’ intent to put dairy and other critical agricultural trade issues on the table and said he believes negotiations offer “real opportunity” for U.S. access to Canada’s currently limited dairy market.
Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO, will attend the talks to advocate for U.S. dairy interests and engage with U.S. negotiators as a cleared agricultural advisor. During previous talks in Ottawa, Canada, Mexico City and Washington, D.C., Dykes participated in several briefings and consulted with U.S. congressional staff, U.S. negotiators and other foreign dairy industry leaders.
Maintaining the U.S. dairy industry’s export market in Mexico is the number one priority for IDFA in the renegotiation. IDFA has also pushed for the negotiators to address problems with Canada’s use of new milk pricing policies that undercut skim milk powder prices on the international market.
“Securing NAFTA provisions that curb these actions is the most important way we can ensure that new Canadian market access is meaningful for U.S. dairy companies and that U.S. dairy products can compete fairly in third-country markets,” said Dykes.
NAFTA negotiators could also consider adding provisions to block the European Union’s attempts to restrict the use of common food names in Canada and Mexico. Last month, the EU and Canada provisionally implemented a bilateral trade pact that blocks American dairy companies from using the common cheese names asiago, feta, fontina, gorgonzola and munster. The EU is currently revising its pact with Mexico to achieve similar exclusions.
The fourth round of talks will conclude Oct. 17. No date has been announced for the fifth of seven planned rounds.
For more information, contact Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.