USDEC identifies measures and policies that impede U.S. dairy trade

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) has identified a list of trade measures and policies that should be highlighted in an annual government report that details significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports.

In joint comments filed this week with the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, USDEC listed nearly 20 measures from nine countries that should be included in the U.S. government’s “2009 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers.” The report serves as a companion piece to the President’s Trade Policy Agenda published in February.

“Although we have trade challenges in a number of countries, we would like to draw attention to a few that have proved to be most troublesome,” USDEC wrote in comments filed November 3.

Among the barriers listed were several that USDEC say impede U.S. dairy exports to China, a “swift growing market, making any trade challenges of particularly concern to our industry.” Highlighted in the comments are development of new standards for whey permeate, whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate that USDEC says are not based on sound scientific principles and may not be in compliance with China’s obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Another long-standing concern highlighted was restrictive levels of Vitamin D fortification for milk in Mexico, which are far lower than those of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. “These unnecessarily restrictive limits are not founded on strong science and pose a challenge to those wishing to export milk to Mexico,” given the large and comprehensive base of scientific research supporting higher levels, USDEC wrote.

USDEC also cited concern with standards recently implemented in Canada that changed the composition standards for cheese. Since they went into effect at end of 2008, these new measures have significantly dampened demand among Canadian dairy processors for U.S. ingredients that had previously been used to manufacture cheese in the country. “Canada’s actions in this respect are clearly in violation of its international trade obligations under the WTO and the North American Free Trade Agreement as its regulations annul import rights granted to the United States under those agreements.”

Other trade measures outlined in the USDEC comments included unscientific and unwarranted health certificate requirements in Algeria, one of the world’s largest buyers of skim milk powder; unfounded sanitary requirements in India that have limited imports of U.S. dairy exports since 2003 and new requirements in Indonesia (the fourth largest export destination for U.S. dairy products in 2008) requiring companies exporting animal-derived products to divulge proprietary information.

“These are significant foreign trade barriers and they have been detrimental to U.S. dairy export trade,” said USDEC. “We will continue to work towards resolution of these matters to provide more broad-based growth in U.S. dairy trade and fair competition for the United States in the international trade arena.”

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