This Week's Top Story



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As FSMA Takes Full Effect, Partnership Opportunities Abound To Improve Food Safety Practices by Larry Bell and Jim Mueller


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NMPF, CIAA Disagree On Proposed US Tariffs On EU Cheese Imports

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and Cheese Importers Association of America (CIAA) disagreed at a hearing here this week over the merits of imposing additional duties on imports of cheese and other dairy products from the European Union (EU).

Last month, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) began its process under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to identify EU products to which additional duties may be applied until the EU removes its subsidies to Airbus.

At that time, the USTR released for public comment a preliminary list of EU products, including numerous cheese and other dairy products, to be covered by additional duties (for more details, please see US Proposes Tariffs On Cheese, Other Dairy Imports from EU, on page 1 of our April 12th issue).
On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, the USTR held a hearing on the proposed tariffs.

US dairy farmers and farmer-owned dairy cooperatives “strongly support” USTR’s proposed imposition of retaliatory tariffs on EU dairy products, said Jim Mulhern, NMPF’s president and CEO.

“We have a unique opportunity to make a big dent in the dairy market access gap we face with Europe,” Mulhern said. Last year, the US ran a $1.6 billion dairy trade deficit with the EU.

Including EU cheeses, yogurt, and butter on the list of retaliatory tariffs “is entirely warranted, and we would encourage you to add additional EU dairy-related tariff lines,” Mulhern continued. “Doing so would send a strong message to Europe about adhering to WTO rules and would bring increased attention to the gross inequities that currently define our dairy trading relationship.”

Due to time constraints, Mulhern discussed just one of what he called “the web of EU tariff and nontariff policies that actively discourage imports”: the EU’s “blatantly protectionist and cumbersome” geographical indication (GI) requirements that target common-name cheese products. Under these restrictions, a country like Italy can ship large and increasing amounts of Parmesan cheese to the US while blocking US Parmesan from entering Europe.

The EU’s GI agenda doesn’t stop at EU borders, Mulhern noted. As the USTR noted in its Special 301 Report last month, the EU is currently engaged in an aggressive trade war spanning the globe and is bent on using GI restrictions to block US dairy exports to third-country markets as well (for more details, please see EU’s Geographical Indication Agenda Remains ‘Highly Concerning’: USTR, on page 1 of our April 26th issue).

“Given Europe’s clear pattern of trade distortion and one-sidedness, and the need to select specific EU sectors to target retaliation on in order to drive EU compliance with its WTO commitments, we believe that retaliatory tariffs on EU dairy products as part of the Airbus case are justified,” Mulhern said.

To that end, NMPF recommends: that additional ad valorem duties of 100 percent be imposed on the particular products imported

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