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Clocked-out trade talks will curdle supply of British cheese on Canadian shelves

OTTAWA — Canadian supermarkets will soon see their supply of British cheese crumble, as both countries seek fair trade terms following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

Dec. 31 will mark the end of a temporary arrangement in which Ottawa offered London a special quota of cheese that could be imported under low tariffs.

Canada made that offer in the hopes it would have signed a deal with Britain by now to replace an interim deal that has kept in place some of the terms that governed commerce between the two countries before Brexit.

But those negotiations haven’t finished, with the U.K. pushing back on Ottawa’s demands to allow Canada to export hormone-raised meat, and London demanding more access to Canada’s protected dairy market.

Peter Holmes, a fellow with the U.K. Trade Policy Observatory, says Canada has the upper hand, since the British government wants new trade deals to convince voters it has managed Brexit well.

Holmes says disagreements over cheese and beef are likely causing Canada to stall its approval for the U.K. to join a Pacific Rim trade bloc, though both countries insist they have good relations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 29, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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