Technical discussions between the EU and Canada over cheese quotas are threatening to disrupt the planned operational launch of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the two countries, which was supposed to have been agreed in detail in February.

CETA is scheduled to come into force on 1 July but talks are ongoing about the administrative arrangements establishing how Canada will open up its cheese markets. Ottawa had agreed to accept 18,000 tonnes of EU-made cheese duty free.

An official at the European Commission’s directorate general for trade confirmed talks were ongoing, adding: “Increased access to the Canadian cheese market is an important CETA benefit for the EU.” The official said the Commission hoped the remaining issues will be resolved promptly.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, the country’s foreign and trade ministry, said: “This is the most progressive agreement ever entered into and the final few days before provisional application involve many discussions to bring the deal to fruition.”

Speaking to just-food, Jukka Likitalo, the secretary general of EU dairy industry association Eucolait, called on the European Commission to ensure administrative systems ensured “Canada does not deviate from the agreement, notably as far as access to newcomers is concerned.”

Litikalo said calculations indicated Canada would increase its quota only gradually. He said in the next year the additional market access would amount “?nly to 2,667 tonnes”, plus “another 283 tonnes industrial cheese”, used as an ingredient by the food sector. Litikalo said he wished the market access would have been more generous as EU cheese exporters want to sell more cheese into Canada.

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By GlobalData