European cheese facing challenges in the Canadian market

With more dairy concessions on horizon, EU deal reveals challenges of opening the Canadian market.

As Canada marks the first anniversary of its trade deal with the EU this month, consumers may be wondering why they aren’t seeing more European cheese in their local stores.

New varieties have been slow to trickle in — a reminder of how complicated it can be to pry open Canada’s protected market.

Canada also agreed to import more foreign dairy products in the Pacific Rim trade deal now being ratified. And even more access to Canada’s domestic market appears to be part of the current renegotiation of NAFTA.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was provisionally applied on Sept. 19, 2017. More European cheese began to arrive last fall.

“It’s not totally clear how this is implemented in Canada,” said Bernd Lange, the German member of the European Parliament who chairs its international trade committee and continues to monitor how the deal he helped broker is working out.

In an interview with CBC News this summer, Lange said that when Canadian and European officials gather for their first joint committee meeting this fall, the EU side will raise the concerns of European cheesemakers who aren’t sure they’re getting all they bargained for, thanks to the way Canada is administering its imports.

International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr will host European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom in Montreal Sept. 26-27 for what’s being billed as “stocktaking and a promotional tour.”

Data available online suggest why Europeans may be concerned.

A thin slice of quota
For 2018, the first full year the trade deal is in effect, Canada agreed to import 5,333 tonnes of EU cheese.

As of the first week of September, only 1,821 tonnes of EU cheese had been imported — just over a third of the amount Canada agreed to allow in. Even taking seasonal buying into account (cheese is popular during the holiday season), the imports aren’t on pace to meet Canada’s commitments.

Separately, the CETA increased the EU’s share of Canadian dairy imports under World Trade Organization rules. About 68 per cent of that total was used by Sept. 5.

 

 

Source: CBC News

 

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