100 European geographical indications set to be protected in China

The EU and China agreed today to formally publish a list of two hundred European and Chinese geographical indications -100 from each side- that will be considered for protection through a bilateral agreement to be concluded in 2017.

This publication opens the process for protecting the listed products against imitations and usurpations and is expected to result in reciprocal trade benefits and increased consumers’ awareness and demand for high-quality products on both sides.

The EU list of products to be protected in China includes products like Bayerisches Bier, Feta, Queso Manchego, Champagne, Gorgonzola and Polska Wódka while among the Chinese products aspiring to obtain geographical indications status in the EU we can find for example Yantai Ping Guo (Yantai apple), Hengxian Mo Li Hua Cha (Hengxian jasmine tea), Panjin Da Mi (Panjin rice) and Baise Mang Guo (Baise Mango). The publication of these lists is part of the standard procedure and opens a period for interested parties to present their comments.

The Chinese market for agri-food products is one of the world’s largest, and is getting larger every year, fuelled by a growing middle class population that has a taste for European food and drink products, often as a result of their international travels. The country also has a rich tradition of geographical indications of its own, many of which are still largely unknown to European consumers but which should now become more widely available thanks to the agreement.

European Commissioner for agriculture, Phil Hogan, said today: “Our EU geographical indication products are a real success story, with growing global sales worldwide. Consumers all around the world trust in our Geographical Indication classification system – this means that they trust the origin and quality of the products, and are willing to pay a higher price for the products, thus a higher premium for the farmer. Working closely with our global trading partners such as China is a win: it benefits our farmer and agri-businesses; it develops stronger trading relationships between like-minded operators; and of course, it benefits consumers on both sides of the agreement.”

EU-China cooperation on geographical indications began over 10 years ago and led to the protection of 10 GIs names on both sides under EU and Chinese legislation. Building on this initial cooperation, in 2010 the EU and China started to negotiate a bilateral agreement on cooperation on, and protection of, geographical indications. The first step of this process is the publication of the two lists of 100 products from each side that the other will protect in their territory once the agreement enters into force.

Interested parties now have two months to comment on the products selected by both parties and, if necessary, raise any concerns with either the EU or Chinese authorities.

Geographical indications are one of the great successes of European agriculture, with over 3300 EU names registered. A further 1250 or so non-EU names are also protected within the EU, mostly thanks to bilateral agreements such as this one with China. In value terms, the market for EU geographical indications is around €54.3 billion, and together they account for 15% of total EU food and drinks exports.

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