FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 26, 2009
USTR, AFTER SCHUMER'S URGING, WILL PUSH INDIA TO OPEN ITS DOMESTIC MARKET TO U.S. DAIRY PRODUCTS AT TODAY'S MEETING BETWEEN U.S. AND INDIAN TRADE OFFICIALS
Today U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he has secured a commitment that United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk will press Indian trade officials to open their domestic market to the US’s dairy exports during today’s U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum. (TPF). The commitment, in a letter written to Schumer, comes a week after Schumer wrote to Ambassador Kirk, urging him to make the issue a top priority. Kirk agreed to make it a “top issue on the agenda” at today’s meeting. Since 2006, India’s market has been completely closed to U.S. dairy products preventing New York, the third largest dairy products exporting state, from tapping into this massive and potentially profitable market. In an effort to bolster trade opportunities for the U.S. dairy industry, Schumer sent a letter to the trade representative urging him to take steps to eliminate the barriers that are impeding access to the Indian market. This is especially timely given the export opportunities that arise as a result of a falling dollar, which makes US dairy products much more price competitive overseas. In response, the USTR sent a letter to Schumer, agreeing to discuss the issue at the TPF today.
“Securing a commitment from the USTR to work with Indian officials on this issue is the critical first step to re-opening the massive and profitable Indian dairy market to U.S. dairy products,” said Schumer. “Not only will eliminating illegal trade barriers enable the U.S. to tap into this profitable market, but eliminating the ban will provide a great shot in the arm for our struggling dairy product manufacturers across New York and the entire country. Healthy exports are a necessary piece of the puzzle for securing a profitable future for our struggling dairy farmers, and I will continue to work with the USTR to ensure that New York’s dairy product producers -- and the U.S. dairy industry as a whole -- can tap into India’s profitable market.”
New York is the third largest dairy products exporting state, with over $332 million in exports of dairy products in 2008. New York companies like Mercer’s Dairy – a small, family-run ice cream manufacturer and exporter in Boonville, New York, that uses the milk produced on its farms in all of its products – want to grow their exports to India, but are shut out by India’s WTO-inconsistent trade barriers.
The inability of U.S. dairy products manufacturers to participate in the Indian market has a direct impact not only on American workers, but also on other agri-businesses in rural and farming communities across the country. Eliminating barriers and opening up the Indian market to the U.S. dairy industry would greatly benefit U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses, a move that would be consistent with USTR’s new initiative to bolster export opportunities for SMEs.
Given the exceptional quality of U.S. dairy products, as well as proven overseas demand, the refusal of the Indian government to remove barriers to U.S. dairy imports undermines our growing bilateral relationship and calls into question India’s commitment to meet its WTO obligations.
The bilateral Trade Policy Forum (TPF) between the U.S. and India will take place today, October 26th in India. The TPF is the principal trade dialogue between the United States and India. U.S. and Indian government officials meet periodically to work towards resolution of issues that impede trade and investment flows.
In an effort to establish a presence for the U.S. dairy industry in India, Schumer wrote to Ambassador Ron Kirk this month urging him to pressure the Indian government to remove the current trade barriers that are blocking U.S. dairy product producers from selling their products to India. In his letter Schumer noted that TPF would be an ideal opportunity to announce actual progress on this issue.
Today, Schumer received a commitment from the USTR to discuss the issue at the Forum. In his response letter, Ambassador Kirk wrote, “With Mercer’s Dairy and other dairy operations in mind, the issue of dairy market access will be a top issue on the agenda”.