Cheese not on the table in Canada-U.K. trade talks as Britain seeks market access | CBC News


The British international secretary has usually been mocked for her preoccupation with cheese. It began eight years in the past when Liz Truss expressed outrage in a speech to her occasion’s annual convention.

“We import two thirds of our cheese,” she raged. “That may be a shame.”

Now Truss is dealing with one other battle over cheese, this time with Canada.

Britain needs higher entry to Canadian markets for greater than 700 sorts of cheese, together with Stilton, Cheshire and Wensleydale, a crumbly selection originating from Yorkshire.

However Ottawa has made it clear it doesn’t need to see extra British cheddar — not to mention artisanal varieties resembling stinking bishop, renegade monk and Hereford hop — on Canadian fridge cabinets. 

In the course of the first spherical of negotiations of the U.Ok.-Canada commerce deal, Canada instructed Britain {that a} bigger quota for British cheese just isn’t on the negotiating desk.

When it was a European Union member, Britain was a part of the Complete Financial and Commerce Settlement with Canada, giving it some entry to Canada’s cheese market.

After the U.Ok. left the EU, a “continuity settlement” with Canada was swiftly put in place to take care of the CETA association till a bilateral commerce deal could possibly be struck.

The price of leaving the EU

Ralph Goodale, Canada’s excessive commissioner to the U.Ok., mentioned if Britain needs extra entry to Canadian markets for its cheese as a part of a bilateral free-trade settlement, it must knock on Brussels’ door and get its a part of the dairy quota again. 

“The purpose is we have now already supplied that quantity within the EU deal and the British left it there with out taking it with them,” he mentioned. “That is a problem they should resolve with the Europeans as a result of the Europeans have their quota.” 

Goodale mentioned the U.Ok.’s request for additional entry for British cheese — on prime of the entry given to the EU — is “what the Canadian negotiators think about to be just about a lifeless finish.”

“You’re speaking a few double concession — one we have now already made to the EU and the request is being made by the U.Ok. for one more one on prime of that,” he mentioned.

Britain’s Overseas Secretary Liz Truss, left, greets Overseas Affairs Minister Melanie Joly upon her arrival on the Museum of Liverpool in Liverpool, England on Dec. 11, 2021. (Related Press/Olivier Douliery)

The excessive commissioner mentioned Canada values its buying and selling relationship with the U.Ok. and he’s assured {that a} mutually-beneficial commerce deal shall be reached.

But when Canada permits the British to export extra of their cheese, he mentioned, it might contain “a significant dedication of compensation to dairy producers” in Canada to make up for misplaced incomes.

In 2018, after the United States-Mexico-Canada Settlement gave the U.S. contemporary entry to the Canadian dairy market, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mentioned he would compensate Canadian dairy farmers.

Canada’s dairy business was price over $7 billion in 2020, in keeping with the Canadian Dairy Fee’s annual report. There are over 10,000 dairy farms in Canada — most of them in Quebec and Ontario — with a median of 92 cows per farm, it mentioned. 

U.Ok. can proceed exporting cheese till finish of yr

Till no less than the tip of subsequent yr, Britain will have the ability to preserve exporting its cheese to Canada beneath the commerce continuity settlement, the U.Ok.’s commerce division mentioned.

This enables U.Ok. cheese exporters to entry the Canadian market tariff-free beneath the EU portion of Canada’s World Commerce Group cheese tariff fee quota.

As a part of the 1995 WTO settlement on agriculture, Canada established tariff fee quotas for cheese and different dairy merchandise. The quotas set out portions of dairy that might enter Canada with little or no obligation.

For Britain, a totally fledged free commerce take care of Canada is essential after Brexit left it searching for contemporary tariff-free markets.

“We need to negotiate an formidable and complete new settlement with Canada that may strengthen our shut and historic bilateral commerce relationship,” mentioned a U.Ok. authorities commerce spokesman in a media assertion, including the connection was price about $34.5 billion in 2021.

Minister of Worldwide Commerce Mary Ng says Canada is not going to be offering the U.Ok. entry to Canada’s dairy sector. (Justin Tang/CP)

In March, U.Ok. Commerce Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan flew to Canada to announce with Canada’s Commerce Minister Mary Ng that bilateral negotiations had formally begun.

As an indication of how severely Downing Avenue is treating the commerce talks, on Thursday Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Maria Miller — a senior Tory MP, former tradition secretary and girls and equalities minister — as his new commerce envoy to Canada.

In a speech within the Home of Lords in London earlier this month, Goodale reported on progress within the talks, saying that “either side are optimistic that, nearly as good as CETA and the continuity settlement have been, we are able to do higher nonetheless when Canada and the U.Ok. negotiate a deal face-to-face, instantly with one another.”

Like Goodale, Ng mentioned Canada is assured a free-trade take care of Britain shall be reached, enhancing co-operation in plenty of areas resembling renewables, sustainability and the digital economic system. 

“Canada values the connection with the UK. They’re an vital buying and selling accomplice and a commerce settlement with the U.Ok. shall be excellent for Canadian companies,” she mentioned in a telephone interview from Thailand final weekend. 

Half of Canada’s cheese made in Quebec

However she was additionally agency about the necessity to defend Canada’s dairy producers — and which means holding extra British cheese out. 

“I’ve been very clear, our authorities has been very clear, that we are going to not present entry to our supply-managed sector,” she mentioned. “We’ve got been clear about that from the get-go.”

The Canadian dairy sector now produces 1,450 sorts of cheese, together with ewe, goat and buffalo varieties, in addition to the cheese curds used within the Quebecois dish poutine.

No less than half of Canada’s cheese is made in Quebec, which is residence to plenty of artisanal varieties resembling bleu l’ermite, or blue hermit, and Oka, a preferred semi-soft rind cheese. 

Pierre Lampron, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, has made it clear he’ll fiercely defend Canadian cheese from British interlopers. 

Lampron mentioned he had “validated that the problem of entry to the Canadian dairy market was not on the agenda of those commerce talks.”

Canada’s protectionist stance towards its dairy business could have happy farmers. However it has triggered some stress with shut allies.

Earlier this month, New Zealand launched a proper commerce dispute towards Canada, accusing the federal authorities of breaking guarantees to offer entry for dairy imports beneath the Trans-Pacific Partnership settlement.

The Biden administration additionally lately mentioned it was asking for a second dispute settlement panel beneath the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Settlement to overview a commerce dispute with Canada over dairy import quotas.

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