Quebec’s cheese producers won’t stand alone; Premier Pauline Marois has stated that the Canada-Europe free trade agreement (FTA) won’t get her endorsement without a guarantee from Ottawa that the Quebec cheese industry will be compensated.

[caption id="attachment_5535" align="alignright" width="300"]AP Photo/Yves Logghe AP Photo/Yves Logghe[/caption]

According to the Brampton Guardian, the small cheese producers in Quebec fear they could lose close to $450 million a year if in competition with the European cheese makers. The Canadian federal government has ensured cheese producers that they’ll receive some compensation. However, cheese producers in Quebec are left without any word on when, or if, they’ll receive that compensation.

Marois believes that her stance on the FTA will not endanger the deal; however, her accord will not be presented without a final word on the producers’ compensation.

Despite the issue, which Marois stated has “caused some problems,” she fully supports the Canada-Europe FTA. "Our goal is to increase our exports to Europe by 10 per cent in five years," said Marois. "There is no doubt in my mind that this new agreement will help achieve this goal."

For the full story, click here.

Oh, Christmas Tree! Christmas-Around-the-World

Big, small, short or tall – at the center of most Christmas celebrations is a brightly lit, beautifully decorated tree! Christmas trees weren’t always so decorated; the first decorated Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510. The first printed mention of a Christmas tree (or “Tannenbaum”) at all appeared in Germany in 1531. The Christmas tree first got its electrical glow in 1882 when American inventor Thomas Edison’s assistant, Edward Johnson, came up with the idea of electric lights for the holiday trees. The strings of lights were first mass-produced in 1890.

Are they real or fake?

In the US, 98 percent of Christmas trees are grown on farms, while only 2 percent are cut from the wild. In Europe, nearly 60 million Christmas trees are grown each year! Did you know that many parts of the Christmas tree can actually be eaten? Apparently, the needles are a good source of Vitamin C, but we’ll leave the taste testing to the experts!

Artificial trees were developed in Germany during the 19th century, originally crafted using goose feathers, dyed green and attached to wire branches. Artificial trees caught on in the US later, and, in 1930, US-based Addis Brush Company created the first artificial Christmas tree using brush bristles. It used the same machinery that was used to manufacture toilet brushes! Today, 80 percent of artificial trees, worldwide, are manufactured in China.

I think we’ll need a bigger tree…

France holds the record for the world’s largest Christmas present. In 1886, they gifted the US with the Statue of Liberty weighing in at 225 tons and standing at a whopping 46.5 meters high!

The other favorite holiday plant

The Poinsettia flower, native to Mexico, was brought to America in 1828 where its coloring caused it to become a holiday sensation.  Today the plant is known in Mexico and Guatemala as "La Flor de la Nochebuena" (Flower of the Holy Night, or Christmas Eve). Aside from the Christmas tree, Poinsettias are the most popular Christmas plant. Most Poinsettias are sold within a six-week period leading up to that holiday, representing some $60 million worth. The Paul Ecke Ranch in California grows over 50 percent of the world-wide sales of Poinsettias.

You can find these facts and more at the Mirror, University of Illinois pages on Christmas trees and Poinsettias, and Youngstapreneur.

And if you’re in the mood for a carol or two, be sure to read our Integration Point Carols: Twas the Night Before Christmas, Twelve Days of Global Trade Compliance, and the classic, Deck the Halls – A Global Trade Management Spin on the old classic!

Wherever you may be in the world celebrating Christmas – Integration Point wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Between a season of dreadful weather and an onslaught of ravenous feral pigs, Australia’s macadamia growers are left feeling a bit… nutty. However, a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea brings new potential to a tough nut industry.

ABC Rural reports that South Korea represents one of the two priority markets for Australia’s macadamia nuts – the other being Taiwan – but a 30 percent tariff has been a roadblock with which the industry often collides. The FTA will reduce the current 30 percent tariff to zero for Australian imports into South Korea.

"Now with this reduction in the tariff over the next five years, we're confident that the market will grow," states Jolyon Burnett, chief executive officer of The Australian Macadamia Society. "The USA achieved a reduction to zero in their tariff over seven years, two years ago," he said. "So the fact that our tariff will reduce to zero over five years brings us back into competitive alignment with US imports into Korea."

Australia’s market is expected to grow 100 percent over the length of the tariff reduction, if the country has the crops to sustain it. Gympie Times states that meeting demand will be the next problem in the market which has grown 240 percent in the past five years. With hostile weather alternating between dry spells and rot-inducing downpours, and feral pigs feasting on the fallen nuts, Australia’s success will not be easy.

For more on Australia’s FTA with South Korea, click here.