eu-china agree deal on geographical indications

the eu and china signed a landmark agreement to recognise each other's protected regional products wednesday, protecting 100 european gis in china and 100 chinese gis in the eu from imitation.

according to the european commission, which signed the landmark agreement, it is expected to result in reciprocal trade benefits and demand for high-quality products on both sides.

"european geographical indication products are renowned across the world for their quality," said the eu's agriculture commissioner phil hogan, in china for the signing: "consumers are willing to pay a higher price, trusting the origin and authenticity of these products, while further rewarding farmers."

mr hogan said the eu was committed to working closely with china, and the agreement was "a win for both parties, strengthening our trading relationship, benefitting our agricultural and food sectors, and consumers on both sides."

china is the second destination for eu agri-food exports, reaching eur 12.8 billion (in the 12-month period between september 2018 and august 2019). it is also the second destination of eu exports of products protected as geographical indications, accounting for 9% of its value, including wines, agri-food products and spirit drinks.

the chinese market is seen as a high-growth potential market for european food and drinks, with a growing middle class with a taste for iconic, high-quality and genuine european products. it also has a well-established geographical indication system of its own, with specialties that european consumers could now further discover thanks to this agreement.

the eu list of gi to be protected in china includes products such as cava, champagne, feta, irish whiskey, münchener bier, ouzo, polska wódka, porto, prosciutto di parma and queso manchego. among the chinese products, the list includes for example pixian dou ban (pixian bean paste), anji bai cha (anji white tea), panjin da mi (panjin rice) and anqiu da jiang (anqiu ginger).

following the conclusion of the negotiations, the agreement is now set to go through legal scrutiny. on the eu side, the european parliament and the council will be asked to give their approval. the agreement is expected to enter into force before the end of 2020.

four years after its entry into force, the scope of the agreement will expand to cover an additional 175 gi names from both sides. these names will have to follow the same registration procedure than the 100 names already covered by the agreement (i.e assessment and publication for comments).

eu-china cooperation on geographical indications began in 2006, leading to the registration and protection of 10 geographical indication names on both sides in 2012, which became the starting block for the latest cooperation.

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