Sunday 22 July 2018

US feta and Parma on the menu in trade talks

British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox. Photo: Bloomberg
British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox. Photo: Bloomberg

Steven Swinford

Trade deals with the US will be at risk if Britain keeps EU protections on items like Champagne, feta and Parma ham, a senior Republican has warned.

Liam Fox, the UK's international trade secretary, has warned David Davis, the Brexit secretary, not to concede to the EU during Brexit talks. During a visit to the US he was told by Paul Ryan, speaker of the House of Representatives, the UK must "diverge" from EU protected status. The US produces its own feta, Parmesan and champagne, and will resist attempts to ban their sale.

Refusal to compromise led to the collapse of a key trade deal between the EU and the US. Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, insists Britain must recognise 3,300 products after Brexit that are protected under a system of "geographical indications", meaning they cannot be made elsewhere. This prevents English growers calling sparkling wine champagne, or Danish farmers selling their crumbly cheese as feta. The UK has 83 protected food and drinks ranging from scotch whisky and Cornish pasties to Arbroath smokies.

Mr Barnier says the issue is "not negotiable" and must be settled before the UK can move on to negotiations about future trading arrangements.

Dr Fox says making concessions now will only embolden the EU to push for more. He says the UK must stay flexible. However, Mr Davis is keen for talks now to avoid it becoming a sticking point in later negotiations.

Irish Independent

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