The International Dairy Foods Association hailed an announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that a formal agreement on a pilot cross-border trucking program between Mexico and the United States has been signed. The agreement will reduce 50 percent of the tariffs imposed by Mexico on U.S. cheese exports.
The tariffs have been in place since last year as a result of the United States' failure to comply with the trucking provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In April, IDFA submitted comments to DOT supporting the trucking program that was signed Wednesday.
"We commend the administration for reaching this agreement that will pave the way for an immediate 50-percent reduction in Mexico's retaliatory tariffs on several dairy products," said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president. "Mexico is our largest export market, so it's important that this agreement moves forward in order for the trucking program to become permanent and the remaining 50 percent of the tariffs to be removed."
Under the terms of the agreement, Mexico has agreed to remove the remaining 50 percent of the tariffs when the pilot program becomes permanent. Mexico is by far the largest export market for U.S. dairy products, with over $325 million in exports this year. However, the tariffs have threatened U.S. market share for several popular cheeses, including parmesan, cheddar, colby, Monterrey Jack and provolone, among others.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 550 companies representing a $110-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's 220 dairy processing members run more than 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States. IDFA can be found online at www.idfa.org.
Source: International Dairy Foods Association