Canada and EU settle dispute on beef imports

CALGARY — Canada has agreed to drop a decades-old trade dispute against the European Union’s restriction of beef imports thanks to terms in the recently enacted Canada-EU trade agreement.

The dispute goes back to 1989 when the European Union closed the door on imports of hormone-treated beef, leading both Canada and the United States to challenge the decision at the World Trade Organization.

In a joint statement posted to the WTO website Tuesday, Canada and the EU said that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement that went into force last month was “conducive for finding a mutually agreed solution and settling the dispute.”

The terms of the CETA deal allows Canada to export 50,000 tonnes of hormone beef duty-free, while in Tuesday’s release Canada agreed to suspend its dispute on the hormone issue while the trade deal remains in place.

Canada had been pushing for a large enough quota to make it worthwhile for producers to set up hormone-free herds, which are generally more expensive to manage.

The government had also looked for assurances from the EU that European governments would not set up non-tariff barriers to Canadian meat, using the back door to prevent Canadian products from competing with their own.

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