The registration of halloumi as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and its inclusion in the European Union’s list is not affected by trade agreements signed with third countries, Agriculture Minster Nicos Kouyialis said on Thursday.
The minister said that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta), signed last week between Canada and the European Union, does not affect the registration of halloumi as a PDO, as this is a matter that concerns only the EU.
“The recognition of halloumi as a PDO strengthens the protection of the product from imitation products in the EU and in third countries with which the EU has signed agreements and ensure that halloumi cheese can only be produced in Cyprus, strengthening thus our trade balance and our national economy,” Kouyialis said.
He added that Ceta provides for the protection of 140 EU products registered as PDO and as Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) from mimicry in Canada. According to the provisions of the agreement, he said, that list can be amended to include new products registered as PDO and PGI.
“Therefore, following the registration of halloumi as a PDO, Cyprus will request the inclusion of the product in the list in question,” Kouyialis said.
Members of the House agriculture committee had expressed concerns on Tuesday over the possible negative impact of Ceta on the island’s agriculture sector but also on the registration of halloumi as a PDO.
MPs had said that they were very concerned as the only Cypriot product among the 140 on the list was the Yeroskipou Loukoumi (delight) and that it might be very difficult to include halloumi on it.
They also urged the government to assess all data before the parliament ratifies or rejects the agreement, as they also fear that the agreement serves the interests of large multinationals against small economies and businesses. Committee members also said that Ceta facilitates the introduction of genetically modified products into the European market.
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.
MPs slammed the government for not initiating public consultation with the agricultural, consumer, or environmental organisations before signing the agreement last month.