Germany has decided to slow down the Canadian European Trade Agreement (CETA). Intended to take effect by 2015, CETA would eliminate 98 per cent of existing trade tariffs, usurping the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as the largest cross-border free trading bloc, but Germany took issue with one of the clauses. This is good news for you home-grown foodies; by slowing down CETA, you’ll have more time to enjoy the small production cheeses in your grilled cheeses. Sure, CETA would likely bring in lots of money for Canada, and nearly all other industries involved benefit greatly from it, but you can’t pass up a great Canadian grilled cheese can you?
Germany opposes CETA based on the investor-state dispute settlement clauses (ISDS). German officials, like economics and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel, fear these clauses will affect their sovereignty by allowing foreign companies to sue governments for forgone profits if they perceive certain laws as overly protectionist, allowing companies to overturn laws passed by elected officials. Seems like a good catch there, Sigmar. I’d like to imagine him as a cheese lover.
On the world cheese scene, Canada has a lot to brag about. A fact many Canadians don’t know is that in 2013, a cheese from Ontario called aged Lankaaster won the world’s best cheese. Another Canadian cheese won the award in 2009: Le Cendrillon from Quebec. Canada placed in 13 of the 80 different categories of the World Cheese competition in 2012. In the last half-dozen years or so, our small cheese makers are just starting to break into the world market for cheese. Sadly, if CETA is signed, the smallest cheese producers would likely be pushed out of the Canadian market with the 29,000 tonnes of tariff-free cheese that will come in from the EU, twice the amount currently allowed.
Modern Canadian cheeses like Lankaaster are born from trying new recipes in small batches. The small-production quality dates back to the first blocks of Canadian cheese. The Canadian cheese identity was born in a similar fashion to Canada itself. The French settlers introduced soft-ripened cheeses, while the British brought with them their British Cheddar. Ideas and traditions were stirred in a big vat. They were separated and then pressed together again before aging for a couple hundred years. The end products are world-renowned Canadian cheddars and pungent Quebec wash-rind cheeses like the famous Quebec Oka. Each type of cheese has a similar beginning but is unique in its own whey.
It might be a couple more months until it’s back on track, but Canada’s dairy farmers, cheese makers, and local cheese lovers should be perfectly content about this delay.