Geographical Indications, Reallocated Cheese Quotas Would Restrict U.S. Access to Canadian Markets
(Washington, D.C. – September 29, 2014) The text of the European Union-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) released at the end of last week contains provisions on geographical indications (GIs) and reallocates a portion of the World Trade Organization tariff rate quota for cheese to the EU. The U.S. dairy industry expressed concern today that these provisions would raise artificial trade barriers restricting market access for American cheeses to the Canadian market. In addition, CETA provides very limited access to many EU dairy products as a result of the agreement’s prioritization of the GI goals of a few “squeaky wheels,” at the expense of broader gains across the full EU dairy industry, according to U.S. dairy industry trade groups.
The provisions on geographical indications are particularly alarming because they grant automatic protection to the EU for “asiago,” “feta,” “fontina,” “gorgonzola” and “munster” in complete disregard of Canadian intellectual property laws. Cheese manufacturers that produced those cheeses prior to October 18, 2013, will be allowed to continue to use those names, but future producers of those cheeses will have to add qualifiers, such as “kind,” “type,” “style” and “imitation.” These new limitations on the use of generic names clearly violate Canadian intellectual property procedures and existing international trade commitments.