EU Pits Alberta Beef Against Quebec Dairy Products in Canada Trade Talks

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The European Union may refuse to open its market to more Canadian beef, pork and sweet corn unless Canada provides better access to its heavily protected dairy sector, a senior European diplomat said.

The EU is “disappointed” Canada hasn’t offered any concessions for products shielded by its supply-management system, under which domestic farmers receive production quotas for dairy products such as milk and cheese, as well as poultry and eggs, said Maurizio Cellini, head of economic and commercial affairs at the EU delegation to Canada in Ottawa. Under the system, foreign products face steep tariff rates above an import quota.

“As a consequence, the EU side has withheld offers on beef, pork and sweet corn,” Cellini said in an email, adding that “further liberalization” can be still be achieved.

The impasse over agriculture may slow negotiations on a free-trade agreement between Canada, the world’s 10th biggest economy, and the EU, the world’s biggest trading bloc. The two sides started negotiations in May 2009, and are set to enter a ninth round of talks in October in Ottawa.

The impasse may also cause political problems for Prime Minister Stephen Harper in balancing regional concerns, with his Conservative Party holding all but one of the seats in Alberta, the country’s biggest beef-producing province, and hoping to rebuild in Quebec, home to almost half of Canada’s dairy farms, which supply companies like Montreal-based Saputo Inc. (SAP)

To read the entire article, visit: | By Andrew Mayeda

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