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As CETA Looms, Canada Braces for the European Cheese Invasion

(Sylvain Charlebois – Globe & Mail)

This is a big month for our dairy sector. We will soon find out who gets to import that delicious, inexpensive European cheese that is allowed under the newly ratified Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

While some measures were taken last fall by the federal government to make our dairy sector more competitive, the most recent federal budget did not add anything more. We have seen some debates on how farmers and cheese makers should be compensated considering CETA, but what should matter most is to whom Ottawa will grant permission to import tariff-free European cheese. As the July 1 implementation date looms, a decision on import quotas is expected soon following months of highly politicized consultations.

With CETA, Canada agreed to import 18,500 tonnes of European cheeses annually by year six, a volume representing roughly 2 per cent to 3 per cent of our domestic market. It may not seem like much, yet given our restrictive supply management, which operates under the principle of domestically producing the milk we need in Canada, CETA creates a significant breach in our highly protectionist quota-based production system. Click here to read more.