The free trade deal between Canada and the European Union will start to kick into place Sept. 21, officials said following a weekend agreement
But 17,000 tonnes of cheese imports remain in play in Canada with huge profits at issue for those who gain Canadian import permits.
Cheese import permit holders can buy at relatively low world-market prices and sell at relatively high tariff-protected Canadian market prices.
Not all permit holders actually import themselves; some “rent” their rights to others.
Canada’s dairy farmers have been lobbying hard over the import permits, worrying that the imports will increase competition in the Canadian cheese market and take markets and profits farmers currently enjoy.
One lobbying goal the dairy farmers set early in the negotiations was to gain the import permits for their own marketing boards, but Europeans strenuously objected.
There were apparently two issues left at the end of negotiations – the cheese import quotas and patent protection for Canadian pharmaceutical companies.