MPs expressed concerns on Tuesday over the possible negative impact on the island’s agriculture sector of the signing last week of a trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.
Specifically concerns have been raised over its impact on the registration of halloumi as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta), which provides for the lift of almost all trade tariffs between the EU and Canada, and includes provisions among others on market access for goods, services, investment and government procurement, was signed on Sunday in Brussels. Full ratification is pending though as it has to be approved by the European
Parliament once all member states give the green light.
“This is a deal that was agreed on by the upper echelons of the EU, to serve the large multinationals against small economies and businesses and certainly against workers,” said the head of the House agriculture committee, Akel MP Andros Kafkalias.
Through this agreement, he said, “which essentially constitutes the resurrection of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) any barrier to the action of multinationals is abolished”. He added that at the same time, policies are being adopted “to the detriment of the environment, consumer safety and public health.
“It inter alia facilitates the introduction of genetically modified products through the back door”. In addition, “serious concerns arise about the course of registering products as PDO”.
Kafkalias expressed concerns that the Ceta could also impact negatively the registration of halloumi as a PDO as “through this agreement and through the documents submitted a large number of such products are not recognised”.
He called on the government to assess all data before the parliament ratifies or rejects the agreement.
Greens MP Charalambos Theopemtou said that they are very concerned since even though there are more than a thousand products designated as PDO and as Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in the EU, the Ceta includes only 140 of them.
Among those 140, he said, the only Cypriot product is the Yeroskipou Loukoumi (delight).
“I don’t know what will happen with halloumi… We will have to add it (to the agreement list) and I don’t know how easy would be to add these products,” Theopemptou said.
Cyprus signed the agreement last month, Theopemptou said, without any public consultation first with the agricultural, consumer, or environmental organisations.