Full text of the European Union-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, released last week, would hinder cheese exports to Canada due to new regulations on common cheese names and the reallocation of a portion of the World Trade Organization tariff rate quota for cheese to the EU.
Though the agreement is pending legal review and ratification, the International Dairy Foods Association, U.S. Dairy Export Council and National Milk Producers Federation expressed concern that the provisions will create artificial trade barriers on cheese to Canada.
The first issue, the groups say, is that the agreement's provisions on geographical indications (common names) are particularly alarming because they grant automatic protection to the EU for "asiago," "feta," "fontina," "gorgonzola" and "munster." This is contrary to Canadian intellectual property laws, groups note.
As a result of the proposed changes, cheese manufacturers that produced those cheeses prior to October 18, 2013, will be allowed to continue to use those names, but future producers of those cheeses will have to add qualifiers, such as "kind," "type," "style" and "imitation."
"The automatic protection for five cheese names that are generic in Canada, the U.S. and globally is another example of the EU's overreach on geographical indications," said Clay Hough, senior group vice president of IDFA. "The EU's GI strategy is incompatible with the fundamental goal of a trade negotiation, which is to remove trade barriers—not add them—and allow for greater competition."
The groups are also concerned about Canada's reallocation of 800 metric tons of its 20,412 metric ton WTO tariff rate quota for cheese to the EU. This reallocation further restricts the limited access that U.S. cheese exporters have into the Canadian market, they say.
"Canada added insult to injury by not only impairing the quality of the cheese market access U.S. exporters expect to gain through ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, but also moving to water down the small access they currently offer to U.S. exporters through Canada's WTO quota," said Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president for NMPF and USDEC. "This is yet another example of Canada's work at every turn to limit access into its market for highly competitive U.S. products."
The date of full implementation of the agreement is unknown, according to the groups.
Source: USDEC, NMPF, IDFA