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Dairy Facts 2016

Ambassadors: Future of US Trade Is Uncertain, but Full of Opportunity

Jan 24, 2018
(L to R): Michael Dykes, Darci Vetter, Tim Groser and David O'Sullivan

Although the future of U.S. trade policy is hard to predict, one thing is clear: The future looks bright for countries that are forging ahead and securing new trade pacts, according to a panel of ambassadors at Dairy Forum 2018 this week in Palm Desert, California. Representing the views of the European Union, New Zealand and the United States, the ambassadors discussed the moves their countries are making on trade and what they could mean for U.S. dairy companies.

"Uncertainty will be the name of the game for quite some time" for U.S. trade policy, said Ambassador Darci Vetter, former chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

“It’s undeniable that there are opportunities for global dairy trade. The question lies in how profitable our products will be in emerging markets,” said Vetter. “Dairy companies should advocate for policies that will allow their products to be competitive globally.”

New Zealand

The other ambassadors acknowledged that their countries are actively seeking these advantages. New Zealand is moving forward on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the European Union is pursuing new bilateral trade agreements with no sign of slowing down, they said.

“You’re the greatest country in the world and you’re going to have to find a way to deal with this," said Tim Groser, New Zealand Ambassador to the United States, referring to America’s growing attitude against trade deals. "But we’re not stopping. We’re going ahead, and we just want you guys to sort it out."

European Union

Ambassador David O'Sullivan, head of the delegation of the European Union to the United States, echoed this message and shared the progress the EU is making on several of the more than 40 active trade deals it is currently pursuing.

“If we complete all these deals, frankly, we’ll be at the center of the largest free trade network the world has ever seen,” he said.

“Do we need any further evidence? The rest of the world continues to move on with or without the United States, and we just heard it,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO, who moderated the discussion.

Not Too Late

The ambassadors were optimistic about opportunities for the U.S. dairy industry to still succeed in trade and improve its global market access. Groser agreed with the U.S. dairy industry that Canada’s new milk pricing policies are harmful and that he’s hopeful they can be addressed in NAFTA’s modernization. He also offered a ray of hope for U.S. companies that lost the promise of market access in TPP. 

If ever the United States wanted to push against the door to access TPP, the administration would be able to tap it open with one finger, he said.

Eye on NAFTA

Vetter encouraged the dairy leaders to watch the sixth round of NAFTA negotiations this week in Montreal, Canada, to see how the United States is packaging some of its most hotly debated asks for signs that progress is being made on dairy issues. 

To view the full presentation on demand, visit Broadcast Live, a live session website sponsored by Dairy Foods magazine.

For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at

Dairy Delivers