The European Union-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was provisionally implemented today. Of deep concern to the U.S. dairy industry is the automatic protection the EU gained for five generic cheese names: “asiago,” “feta,” “fontina,” “gorgonzola” and “munster.” The International Dairy Foods Association believes the EU has once again used geographical indications (GIs) to erect trade barriers.
U.S. cheese manufacturers that began producing those types of cheeses after October 18, 2013, will be required to add qualifiers, such as “kind,” “type,” “style” and “imitation” for sales in Canada. These new limitations on the use of generic names clearly violate Canadian intellectual property procedures and existing international trade commitments.
Canada also reallocated 800 metric tons of its 20,412-metric-ton World Trade Organization tariff-rate quota for cheese to the EU. This reallocation further restricts the limited access that U.S. cheese exporters have into the Canadian market.
“The outcome in CETA on GIs goes against the very core of a trade agreement, which is to remove trade barriers – not erect new ones – and allow for greater competition,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA. “We are diligently working to ensure strong provisions that protect generic terms are included in NAFTA 2.0, as well as to discourage Mexico from going down the Canadian path as it negotiates a GIs list with the EU.”
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers with a membership of nearly 525 companies within a $125-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's nearly 200 dairy processing members operate more than 600 plant operations and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States.