The ongoing negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership must provide free trade of dairy products between the U.S., Canada and Japan, dairy groups say.
The U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation suggest that progress on market access into Canada and Japan have been "frustratingly slow" and U.S. negotiators shouldn't allow the process to drag on indefinitely.
"It is time to finish the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, including resolving the treatment of agricultural trade," said Tom Suber, president of USDEC. "The principle of creating comprehensive market access is too important to this and future trade agreements. Therefore, if Japan and Canada are not committed to this goal, we need to move forward without them."
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The groups' position follows ministerial-level meetings in Singapore last week on several unresolved issues, including resistance by Canada and Japan to allow further market access for "sensitive" sectors, such as dairy imports.
The TPP involves a significant number of markets bordering the Pacific Ocean, including the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
"The U.S. dairy industry is prepared to eliminate all tariffs affecting dairy trade with Canada and Japan, as long as they do the same. If Japan and Canada are not willing to make an effort and offer realistic market access to the U.S., then they are not serious about being part of TPP," said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern.
Suber added that the U.S. dairy sector, in consultation with government officials, "has been patient and flexible with our Japanese and Canadian friends, but we are running out of both patience and time."
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The dairy sector, he adds, strongly believes there is an achievable deal to which both countries can agree, but that deal must include substantial market access for our products.
"It cannot be any other way," he said.
In addition to addressing market access, both organizations noted that any comprehensive agreement also must include effective disciplines for applying sanitary and phytosanitary measures that are science-based and enforceable, and preventing restrictions on the use of common food products.
The groups also revisited their position on New Zealand's dairy structure, which they call "monopolistic." They claim it creates unfair commercial advantages for a single company, and suggest that TPP negotiations also address this concern.