WASHINGTON– The Pet Food Institute (PFI), whose members make 98 percent of all U.S. pet food and treats, provided testimony yesterday before a government panel on the value of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and identified possible areas for enhancement in the trade deal. Speaking before officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Treasury Department and the Commerce Department, PFI described ways in which NAFTA supports manufacturing and jobs among U.S. pet food and treat makers, and addressed means to modernize the trade deal. PFI also submitted comments in advance of the public testimony on June 27.
PFI’s Peter Tabor, vice president of regulatory and international affairs, spoke during the first day of the public hearings on NAFTA and commented on the current value that the trade deal brings to U.S. pet food and treat manufacturing. “PFI members employ approximately 30,000 Americans in 29 states, providing stable jobs across the country. Part of this economic footprint can be attributed to international trade opportunities. Among the nations with which the United States has free trade agreements, Canada and Mexico are the first and second export markets for U.S. feed and feed ingredients, including pet food,” said Tabor. “Exports across North America have been critical to the success of U.S. dog and cat food and treat makers.”
In public testimony and submitted comments, PFI also noted that while NAFTA’s zero tariffs and regulatory cooperation provide a reliable trade system for the North American market, there are areas for further enhancement in the trade deal, including:
- Adoption of World Trade Organization (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures: PFI encourages U.S. trade negotiators to consider adoption or incorporation of the WTO SPS Agreement into NAFTA. This will help ensure all three NAFTA parties respect their WTO SPS obligations, including the obligation to adopt only the least trade restrictive, science-based sanitary and phytosanitary measures to protect animal and plant health, as well as food safety.
- Incorporation of E-Commerce: Internet commerce continues to grow and provide trade opportunities for U.S. dog and cat food makers. PFI urges negotiators to consider incorporating an e-certificate system among NAFTA trade partners that would make the export process more efficient, while ensuring that an importing country’s applicable sanitary, phytosanitary and food safety requirements are met.
“PFI is committed to working with USTR and USDA to ensure that the effort to modernize NAFTA results in an agreement that builds on the success U.S. food and agriculture have enjoyed, while identifying opportunities to ensure that all sectors of the national economy prosper under NAFTA,” Tabor noted. “A modern, science-based trade agreement supports American competitiveness and, ultimately, American jobs.”
For more information about PFI and U.S. pet food and treat makers, please visit www.petfoodinstitute.org.
ABOUT PET FOOD INSTITUTE
Since 1958, the Pet Food Institute has been the voice of the U.S. pet food and treat makers. PFI is the industry’s representative before Congress and state legislatures, as well as state and federal agencies; public education and media relations resource; organizer of seminars and educational programs; and liaison with other organizations. PFI represents the companies that make 98 percent of U.S. dog and cat food and treat products, an industry with more than $28 billion in U.S. retail sales and $1.3billion in exports in 2016.