According to International Business Times, Canada is preparing to include Muenster, Cheddar Cheese and Gouda on a list containing 173 foods and beverages that will no longer be allowed to be sold under their common names. If a cross-Atlantic agreement is approved, products bearing those common names will be barred from grocery stores unless Canada or some other country in Europe which those names are associated with is the country of production.
The agreement’s final version was released at the beginning of this month. This development will especially affect restaurants in New York and Vancouver where some of these foods and beverages are many customers’ favorites.
The last ten years have seen the battle over what has been referred to as “geographical indications”; producers of food and beverage in Europe have fought for better protection by the law for the food and beverage products they are known for.
This “geographical indications” concept was the basis of an agreement that the US reached with the EU in respect to wine labeling. According to the agreement, any sparkling wines using the label “Champagne” which were in U.S. stores had to be made using France grown grapes.
Specifically, the grapes were to have originated from Champagne region in France. The companies that were already producing sparkling wine in the period prior to the pact taking effect were not allowed to continue with their production and use Champagne in their labeling.
This same concept is at play in discussions that have been going on for almost a decade now between Canada and EU member states. There is particularly one controversial part of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that proposes the removal of 98% of bilateral tariffs of doing business.
According to a Politico report, there are indications that the concept could be finalized as early as next month. The agreement could come into effect sometime next year. This proposal is expected to break numerous trade barriers that have existed between Canada and the EU.
“Fake” or “Imitation” Labeling Requirement
Food producers in the U.S. and other countries are up in arms over the pact’s provisions, which would require them to add a modifier in their labeling such as “fake” or “imitation”. This provision is however only applicable for products sold in Canada. Nonetheless, this fact is doing little to quell the food producers’ fury.
Last spring, over 50 senators in the U.S. signed a letter to urge the Department of Agriculture to put up a fight against such provisions in its dealings with the European Union. This was in response to concern expressed by industry stakeholders in the U.S. However, to the Canadian government, CETA would put it at an economic advantage following the new trade opportunities with the EU.
In an announcement on YouTube a few weeks ago, Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast said, “This is another important step toward the implementation of the historic Canada-EU trade agreement, which will create jobs and opportunities for hard-working Canadians in every region of the country.”
The finalized copies of CETA is currently being translated into 23 major languages so that it can be scrutinized by lawyers before being released to the general European and Canadian public.