Indo-US trade can be mutually beneficial, say dairy exporters

WASHINGTON: At a time when India is struggling to consistently meet its growing domestic dairy demand, Indo-US bilateral trade can be mutually beneficial, American dairy exporters today said while applauding US Vice President Joe Biden for taking up their cause during his just-concluded trip to New Delhi and Mumbai. 

"US dairy exporters believe that trade between the United States and India can be mutually beneficial, particularly as India struggles to consistently meet its growing domestic dairy demand," said Tom Suber, president of US Dairy Exporter Council. 

"As the US and India reengage in talks aimed at improving bilateral trade, we must ensure that a focus on the importance of safe and accurately labelled food remains at the core of discussions on agricultural trade," he said. 

In a joint statement, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) applauded Biden's remarks calling for expanded trade between India and the US, during a speech in Mumbai. 

He also pointed to the need to negotiate and work through barriers to market access, among other trade priorities. 

"For far too long, a wide range of US dairy products have been effectively locked out of the
Indian market without sound scientific justification," Suber said. 

"US dairy products are sold in over 100 markets around the world and are well known for their high level of food safety. We look forward to renewed discussions with India on how to remove inappropriate barriers to market access for safe products," he said. 

"As we focus on tearing down unwarranted trade barriers so that our industry can continue to grow, it is equally important to ensure that we also maintain a strong focus on food safety and product integrity," said 
Jim Mulhern, chief operating officer of NMPF. 

"US dairy products have an excellent track record in this area while India's own government has found serious problems with a majority of its own dairy products," he added. 

In early 2012, NMPF called the US Food and Drug Administration's attention to a study conducted by the Indian Food Safety and Standards Authority that found that 68 per cent of milk samples analysed did not meet Indian standards. 

"Given these alarming findings, we believed it was important for FDA to determine if adulterated dairy products in India were entering the 
US market," Mulhern stated. 

"We are gratified that FDA agreed that concern is warranted and this summer put in place an import alert on certain dairy products from India," he said. 

The FDA import alert calls for the detention of specified dairy products from certain Indian exporters and requires further documentation to ensure that the products are complying with US regulations designed to protect food safety.