Canada and the European Union announced last week the conclusion of their free trade agreement. The talks, which began in May 2009, will require more technical work before the final text goes through legal review and translation. Ratification by the two sides could take 18 to 24 months.
Big concessions were made on both sides. The EU gained access to Canada’s cheese market with a tariff-rate quota (TRQ) of 17,000 metric tons for high-quality European cheese as well as a quota of 1,700 metric tons for industrial cheese. Canada gained access for beef (50,000 metric ton TRQ), pork (75,000 metric ton TRQ) and canned sweet corn (8,000 metric ton TRQ).
Press reports indicate a compromise in the area of geographical indications (GIs) for cheese products that may exclude future producers from marketing their cheese under generic names such as asiago, feta, fontina, gorgonzola and muenster. Greece’s agriculture minister has claimed this as a victory for feta, in particular.
This may be a favorable outcome for the EU, but not everyone is happy about the deal. Dairy Farmers of Canada have proclaimed their displeasure on their website stating, “Canada would lose its small, artisan and local cheese makers and a world-leading industry with top quality products – within a short time frame.”
The concessions granted to the EU by Canada are disconcerting for IDFA and U.S. cheese exporters. As negotiations continue in the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (T-TIP) between the United States and the EU, protecting common cheese names will be a top priority for IDFA. IDFA will continue to work to ensure U.S. dairy exporters are not locked out of key markets by the EU.
For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at email@example.com.