The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), which represents the US dairy industry, has welcomed the passing of the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement by the US Senate.

The bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives last month, was passed in the Senate yesterday (4 December) by a 77-18 vote.
"The strong bipartisan support demonstrated last month by the House of Representatives and today by the Senate sends a strong signal to our trading partners that the United States truly is committed to trade liberalisation," said IDFA president and CEO Connie Tipton. "We hope it will set a good precedent for trade votes in the future."
The agreement will give US dairy exporters immediate duty-free and quota-free access to Peru for exports of whey and lactose, the association said.

The agreement also allows sizeable amounts of tariff-free access for other categories such as cheese, ice cream and processed dairy products. US dairy exports to Peru last year were valued at US$12m.

As exports have become increasingly important to the US dairy industry, the IDFA has been a strong advocate of free-trade agreements.

Over the last five years, the value of US dairy product exports has doubled, reaching a record $1.8bn in 2006, according to the IDFA.
The Senate vote marks the last stage in the approval process, which will be completed by President Bush signing the agreement into law by the end of the year.

However, while the bill was welcomed by the dairy industry, advocates for the cattle industry were critical.

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America said it been working to have a number of general improvements included in all trade agreements affecting the US cattle industry, including establishment of quantity and price safeguards and the upward harmonisation of import health and safety standards.
"We hope the issues that we brought up for discussion will be considered before moving forward on any trade agreements that have implications for independent US cattle producers," said R-CALF USA's Max Thornsberry.