CANADA – The International Cheese Council of Canada (ICCC) has voiced disappointment with the Canadian federal government’s plan to alter the current dairy tariff rate quota (TRQ) allocation and administration policy under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement or Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The proposed changes stem from a historic ruling in a CPTPP dispute settlement panel on September 6, 2023, where elements of Canada’s TRQ administration were deemed inconsistent with the agreement’s provisions.

The panel recommended Canada amend its TRQ allocation measures to comply with CPTPP, following New Zealand’s successful challenge.

Joe Dal Ferro, the Chair of ICCC, expressed disappointment, stating that the members and associate members, small and medium-sized enterprises have been left worse off by this exact system under CUSMA.

“We can’t believe our own government would do this to our industry once again, in the midst of a crisis – which they contributed to – the expiry of the Cheese Letters.”

Under the CPTPP, Canada agreed to provide additional market access for supply-managed goods to CPTPP parties, creating three new cheese TRQs.

However, the ICCC argued that Canada’s TRQ administration and allocation practices have limited the realization of the granted market access. The proposed changes are expected to continue this limitation.

ICCC urged Canada to allocate CPTPP quota to those most likely to use it, emphasizing the potential benefits for Canadian consumers and SMEs.

“The ICCC encourages Canada to allocate CPTPP quota to those most likely to use it – to the benefit of Canadian consumers and SMEs,” Dal Ferro added.

In a statement, the ICCC affirmed its commitment to working with Canadian and New Zealand government officials to ensure that the amended TRQ allocation measures not only meet Canada’s treaty obligations but also bring tangible benefits to Canadian consumers and businesses.

The dairy industry faces uncertainty as stakeholders navigate the implications of the proposed changes, with ongoing discussions expected between industry representatives and government officials to address concerns and find solutions that align with international trade agreements and support the Canadian dairy sector.

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