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UK-Canada Free Trade Talks Stall Over Food Safety Measures and Tariffs

Source: The DairyNews
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After two years of negotiations, free trade talks between Canada and the United Kingdom hit a roadblock, primarily due to disagreements over food safety measures and tariffs related to beef and cheese.
UK-Canada Free Trade Talks Stall Over Food Safety Measures and Tariffs
The breakdown in talks occurred at the end of January, with differences emerging on hormone-treated beef and a 245% import tax on British cheese imposed at the start of the year.

Key Points:

Hormone-Treated Beef Dispute: Canada sought the UK's relaxation on hormone-treated beef regulations, claiming that existing restrictions had barred its producers from the British market. The UK's refusal to alter its stance contributed to the breakdown in talks.

Import Tax on British Cheese: The imposition of a 245% import tax on British cheese by Canada at the beginning of the year added to the trade tensions. The tariff, along with other disagreements, has repercussions for the UK's trading terms, making them less favorable than the EU's deal with Canada.

Impact on UK Industries: The breakdown in talks could lead to higher tariffs for British car firms. While the UK industry criticized the government's decision to halt talks, the farming community welcomed the move, especially after concerns over previous trade deals with Australia and New Zealand.

Farmers' Perspective: The National Farmers Union (NFU) supported the decision to stop talks, emphasizing that Canada demanded too much and offered too little, especially regarding food safety rules. The NFU stressed that maintaining high food safety standards is non-negotiable.

Trade Statistics: In 2023, the UK exported £198.1 million worth of food to Canada, with cheese being a significant product. Canada, in turn, exported food worth £557.7 million to the UK, with wheat and maize as leading products.

Impact on UK Cheese Producers: UK cheese, previously allowed tariff-free imports under a temporary arrangement, saw changes in quotas, making it subject to prohibitive import taxes. This shift poses challenges for UK producers competing against global exporters.

Canada's Response: Canada's trade minister expressed disappointment over the pause in talks, citing the UK's unwillingness to reach mutual agreements and maintain market access barriers.

The deadlock underscores challenges in aligning trade priorities and standards, with food safety and agricultural practices at the forefront of discussions.
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