Conservatives open door to free trade with EU after reaching cheese import deal

The Conservatives have reached a deal with the European Union over cheese imports that opens the door to a multi-billion free trade deal with the world’s largest economy.

The political agreement on the deal has now been sent back to the provinces for final approval. If they sign off, the announcement of an agreement-in-principle could be made “within days,” said one provincial source…

…it is understood that negotiators have agreed to double the amount of European cheese imported into Canada — to around 30,000 tonnes a year — in order to get the Europeans on board.

The talks had been deadlocked over a couple of issues: Canada’s access to European markets for beef and pork; as well as freedom for Europeans to bid on Canadian government contracts. However, the main stumbling block was the Conservative government’s reluctance to open up the protected Canadian cheese market. Currently, more than 90% of the 408,000 tonnes of cheese sold in this country is made here.

Ottawa will argue that domestic producers will hardly feel the increase in imports because the cheese market is growing by around 8,000 tonnes a year. The additional access will equate to just 4% of Canadian domestic consumption…

This article has been excerpted from 16 October 2013 article by the National Post, and is available in its entirety at (subscription may be required.)