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January 24, 2018

 

Dairy co-op president calls for "proactive" trade to benefit US dairy 

 


The dairy industry of Washington state would be adversely impacted if the US pulls out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other FTAs, Stan Ryan, the president of Seattle-based dairy co-operative, warns. 


In an article for the Seattle Times, Ryan pointed out that the dairy sector has created more than 736,700 jobs and injected a US$69 billion economic stimulus to Washington. The state's  dairy industry contributes close to US$4 billion yearly to its economy and avails more than 18,800 jobs.


"Nationwide, US dairy companies employ nearly one million skilled individuals and generate more than US$39 billion in wages," Ryan writes. "With demand for nutritious dairy products globally on the rise and the capacity here at home to sustainably expand production, free-trade agreements are crucial to a thriving US dairy industry and adding thousands more American jobs."


He also backs efforts to update NAFTA, explaining that the agreement has to continue ensuring duty-free access to Mexico, the US' biggest foreign market.


"We must gain access to Canada's dairy market, which was excluded from NAFTA when it was first negotiated nearly a quarter century ago," he adds.


According to Ryan, the US is the leading dairy supplier to Mexico, taking nearly 75% of the market. "Dairy exports to Mexico support nearly 30,000 American jobs," he claims.


In addition, he notes of the challenges US dairy exporters encounter in entering the Canadian market. These obstacles include high tariffs and Canada's new pricing policy which "keeps domestic consumer dairy prices high, while simultaneously undermining global markets for dairy ingredients, and exporting those ingredients far below the prevailing world price."


"This not only keeps Washington and other US dairy products out of Canada, it has effectively blocked some US dairy exports to other markets around the world. NAFTA negotiations present an opportunity to stop these unfair practices," Ryan asserts.


He calls for a "proactive global trade agenda" as he observes other countries which are able to secure access to "a fast-growing middle class" ahead of the US through various trade deals.


"The completion of the free-trade agreement between Japan and the European Union is an example of falling behind, with the new TPP deal simply the latest in a string of setbacks," Ryan says.


"Meanwhile, the European Union, as well as Australia and New Zealand, are expanding their global reach through negotiations with Canada and Vietnam, and the Pacific Alliance."


Acknowledging the US dairy business as "the most competitive in the world", Ryan seems to suggest that the country should rethink about its "America First" stance on trade.
 
"US trade negotiators are able and working hard on NAFTA, but I urge them to aggressively and simultaneously pursue a level playing field for US dairy products and agriculture everywhere else," he concludes.
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