Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union

In 2009, Canada began negotiations with the European Union (EU) toward a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The scope of these negotiations was broad and affected all facets of the Canadian economy as well as regions across the country.

On October 18, 2013 Canada and the EU signed a tentative deal, agreeing to open the door to free trade. Unfortunately, this has come at a cost to Canada’s dairy sector.

By signing this agreement, the government will potentially be giving the EU additional, exclusive access that is equivalent to 32% of the current fine cheese market in Canada. Two-thirds of cheese we import already comes from Europe. Dairy farmers in Canada are not subsidized and should not have to compete against the Treasury of the European Union.

Moreover, Europe is pleased that Canada, considered as one of its important trading partners, was the first one who agreed to recognize geographical indications (GI). Five of these relate to cheeses that are made in Canada. Cheese makers who currently make cheeses like Feta, Asiago and Gorgonzola in Canada will be able to continue to call their cheeses as such, with some conditions. However, they will never be able to sell them to the European countries.

Canada’s dairy system is one of the best in the world and has demonstrated itself as a stable and efficient agriculture model. But these concessions can take income from Canadian dairy farmers, processors and their communities and give it to the European industry.

Dairy farmers recognize that trade plays an important role for many sectors in Canada and the country’s overall prosperity. However, small Canadian businesses and jobs remain a priority for our industry and government has a role to play in helping shape an environment for all sectors’ small and medium businesses to thrive.

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