Trade deals are stalling, thanks to… cheese?

European countries are disrupting negotiations over their fancy-schmancy cheeses.


August 12, 2020

A post-Brexit deal between the UK and Japan might be on hold — all because of wheeling and dealing around blue cheese. 

One negotiator is holding up the talks to win better terms for the famous British Stilton

Talk about a wedge issue 

Holding up a trade deal over some fancy fromage might sound holier-than-thou. But the stalemate highlights just how much cheese exports have matured.

They’re worth ~$70B, and they’ve grown 3% a year since 2010.  

They’re especially important for small European countries. People are so gaga for gouda that cheese exports are worth $4.2B to the Netherlands.

Big Cheese keeps grating deal-makers’ nerves

An EU-Canada pact might curdle because Cyprus wants extra protections for its signature halloumi.

Last year, Italy’s Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium — a very real group of cheese bigwigs — claimed that US tariffs would shred ~50k jobs.

Now China is getting cheesy

It’s buying up artisanal cultures like nobody’s business.

Between 2013 and 2018, British cheese exports to China jumped from £67k to £6.5 million.

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