05/09/2013 12:58 EDT | Updated 07/09/2013 05:12 EDT

Agricultural issues stalling Canada-Europe trade deal, EU official says

OTTAWA - A high-ranking European official says only agricultural issues stand in the way of a Canada-European Union trade deal.

Matthias Brinkmann, EU's ambassador to Canada, says most other issues are ready or close to ready for signing, but the two sides are still apart on agriculture.

He says the EU is ready to agree to allow 40,000 tonnes and more of beef imports, the minimum Canadian producers said would be required.

But he says Canada is insisting on more, without giving a specific figure.

In return, Brinkmann says Europe must be allowed to ship more dairy products — particularly cheese — to Canada.

He says Europe is not interested in changing Canada's supply management system as long as it increases the quota.

Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast responded that the two sides are close to a deal, but would not give specifics.

The two were meeting in Ottawa at an event celebrating Europe Day.