For the past 40 years, the Government of Canada has effectively frozen the amount of cheese that ICCC members can import at 20,411,866 kilograms (kgs) through various import controls, including the current World Trade Organization (WTO) Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) scheme.
Imports over the 20,411,866 kgs WTO TRQ are effectively blocked by Ottawa’s 250% customs tariffs on cheese imports.
Although this TRQ has remained static at 20,411,866 kgs, over the past four decades Canada’s population grew by more than 50%, and is currently over 36,000,000 persons.
Consequently, in 2017 the average amount of international cheese available to each Canadian is less than one kilogram. During this four-decade import freeze, the only way to grow our import businesses was to purchase or rent WTO TRQ from other TRQ holders.
Likewise, given the zero-sum game created by Ottawa’s 40-year import freeze, the only way to import a new cheese variety, or import cheese from a new country, was to shift imports from existing varieties or countries.
The frozen WTO TRQ acquired value as demand for international cheeses exceeded supply due to Ottawa’s 250% border taxes on cheese, Canadian population growth, and ICCC members marketing and growing Canadian consumer demand for specialty cheeses.
After 40 years of cheese imports frozen at the same level, the CETA will increase the TRQ for non-industrial cheese by 16,000,000 kgs – from 20,411,866 kgs to 36,411,866 kgs, when the CETA TRQ is fully implemented in 2022.