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The National Milk Producers Federation voted at its March board meeting to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and urged Congress to pass it this year – as long as certain implementation and enforcement concerns are addressed. The TPP agreement is a historic trade pact between 12 countries bordering the Pacific Ocean.

Board members also discussed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), another major trade pact being negotiated with Europe. NMPF expressed its opposition to further advancement of the TTIP in light of Europe's continuing refusal to remove barriers to U.S. dairy exports.

'Taken in its entirety, the TPP agreement is positive for the U.S. dairy industry,' said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. 'Although it achieves less than we wanted in terms of throwing open new markets in Japan and Canada, I am pleased that we did not concede to a surge in new imports.'

With its endorsement, NMPF outlined one caution: U.S. government agencies must ensure the diligent enforcement of the agreement's provisions with America's trading partners. The NMPF resolution also urged the U.S. to establish proper enforcement measures regarding access granted to the domestic market, and monitor compliance with those measures after the TPP is implemented.

The board also noted that given the lack of significant export inroads in the agreement, the TPP market access package should not be used as a template for future U.S. trade agreements

NMPF's position reflects a detailed assessment of the agreement, conducted by the staffs of both NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). The board weighed several factors in making its decision to support the TPP agreement:

The net effect on the U.S. dairy industry of all TPP market access concessions is expected to be neutral to slightly positive, with the most notable U.S. export gains coming in Canada and Japan, along with somewhat smaller increases in new imports.

There is the potential for the agreement to expand over time to include additional participants in Asia, particularly nations that currently — or will soon — have trade agreements with major dairy competitors. It is imperative that the U.S. remain a key player in the region as its works to expand future U.S. exports.

In the areas of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) provisions, the TPP features groundbreaking new commitments that should limit the possibility of participating countries eroding existing and future market access for U.S. dairy exporters through unjustified regulatory determinations.

The TPP contains new Geographical Indications (GI) provisions establishing a more equitable international model on registering GIs for food. The text does not directly block the EU from inappropriately restricting the use of common food names important to global trade, but it does significantly strengthen the ability for the U.S. to combat barriers when they arise, thereby helping preserve market access opportunities for U.S. companies.

Regarding the TTIP negotiations, Mulhern added: 'The negotiations have not demonstrated concrete progress toward addressing food safety challenges and other non-tariff trade barriers.'

NMPF is strongly combatting the EU's efforts to restrict common food names for its members. The failure to resolve these issues in the TTIP 'would exacerbate the existing U.S. dairy trade deficit with the EU of over $1 billion,' he said.

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