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Actions against exports from the EU | Brussels, 23 October 2017

China lifts trade obstacles for European cheeses

Unjustified trade barriers on European cheeses imposed by China have been lifted, allowing trade to resume immediately.

The barriers affected specific types of European cheese such as Roquefort, Danish Blue, Gorgonzola or Stilton, which have been safely imported and consumed in China for decades. However, the Chinese authorities recently decided to roll-back their previous authorisation of certain cultures and techniques used in the production of these so-called 'mouldy' cheeses on the grounds that they were a risk to consumer health, effectively banning their import from Europe.

The EU's position has always been clear: the techniques and cultures questioned by the Chinese have been used by EU cheese makers for centuries, and European cheeses clearly do not pose a risk to consumer health. According to the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), all members have to accept international production standards unless there is a justified risk.

Following consumer complaints last summer and meetings of the European Commission's experts in trade and health and food safety and their Chinese counterparts, the Chinese authorities have agreed to lift the trade obstacles and to update their rules on cheese. The European Commission's delegation and the French Embassy in China have also proposed to organise a technical seminar between European and Chinese experts on relevant cheese standards in a bid to limit the risk of further trade obstacles in the future.

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EU trade policy and WTO

WTO and EU agriculture