A MOVE by European Union processors to sell cheese to Canada using "geographic indications" could set a precedent.
The precedent could regulate the names of commonly used dairy products.
That's according to Dairy Australia trade and strategy group manager, Charlie McElhone, who - along with Australian Dairy Industry Council chairman Noel Campbell - recently attended Trans Pacific Partnership talks in New Zealand.
Mr McElhone said the agreement between Canada and the EU referred to geographic indications, the name or sign used for certain products to indicate their origin. It could result in a "GI creep" into regulations of the use of generic cheese names or product names.
There was a risk the regulations would become ingrained beyond the EU, he said.
"The TPP is important to build in some parameters around the rules of geographic indications and how they can be utilised," he said.
"If there are constraints on ... a cheese name like feta and not being able to export to markets where we currently export or even market them at home ... what kind of cost would this incur on business?" Mr McElhone said.
The adjustment for consumers would be enormous, he said.
The TPP talks involved 11 countries, including the US, New Zealand, Canada, Vietnam and Australia. The discussions aim to eliminate barriers to trade and investment.
Among topics discussed was the recent US presidential election whether it might provide a new dynamic for trade talks.
"We now have a President in what has to be his final term," Mr McElhone said.
"Can it open opportunities? ... will President (Barack) Obama's attitude towards international trade and engagement within things such as Trans Pacific Partnership and bilateral deals affect new political environment and negotiations?"
Canada had also entered negotiations and Australian representatives had "strong dialogue' about broader trade strategies and markets.
Mr Campbell said Australian dairy industry delegates made it clear to the Canadians that being part of the TPP discussion required liberalisation of the country's domestic dairy industry, especially its heavily regulated new market access rules.
He said the talks were important for the Australian dairy industry, even though this country already had free trade agreements with eight of the 11 countries involved.