A bill on cheese imports newly passed by the Icelandic parliament will cause Icelandic consumers to miss out on 104 tonnes of duty-free imported cheese this year, RÚV reports. That is according to Ólafur Stephensen, Secretary General of the Icelandic Federation of Trade. Ólafur says the government’s decision to back out on raising tariff quotas on cheese imports in the near future is an example of consistent prioritising of local farmers over local consumers.
Iceland had previously signed an agreement with the EU to increase tariff quotas on cheese imports over the next four years. The bill, proposed in May by Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Kristján Þór Júlíusson, suggested speeding up the process to one year, thus increasing the availability and lowering the price of cheese for consumers more rapidly. After considering different timelines for the process, the bill was passed according to the original timeline of four years, meaning Icelanders will have to wait longer to see any impact on supermarket shelves.
The committee behind the bill argued the increase to tariff quotas would have a major impact on local dairy production and the industry thus needed more time to prepare for the change. The bill, however, mostly affected specialty cheeses that are not manufactured in Iceland and are therefore not in direct competition with cheeses made by local producers.
Icelandic consumers will thus lose over 100 tonnes of duty-free specialty cheese this year, and tens of tonnes over the next three years.