National Farmers Federation’s (NFF) chief executive Tony Mahar says Australian farmers, processors and consumers are at a disadvantage as the EU has added haloumi to its list of geographical indicators (GI) products. The EU voted to restrict cheese manufacturers outside of Cyprus from marketing haloumi cheese under that name. The Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) has campaigned against the EU GI system and is urging Australian trade negotiators not to cave to the EU’s demands. Haloumi is not listed as a GI request under the pending Australia-EU free trade agreement, but the development is worrying both NFF and ADIC. NFF’s chief has called the EU geographical indicator regime a Trojan horse for protectionism as GIs create significant and needless cost burdens on food supply chains in both the EU and Australia. Mahar said decades of perfecting the craft, marketing and IP will come undone by signing up to a regime that has protectionism as its main objective.
According to ADIC estimates, the EU demands to restrict cheese and dairy product names could put local products with a sales value of more than $650m at risk. The direct costs of strictly enforced GIs could be in the range of $70m – $90m a year in the early stages of an FTA.