EU, China agree to protect each other’s produce

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    BEIJING – The European Union and China agreed on Wednesday to protect 100 European regional food designations in China and 100 Chinese equivalents in the EU to spur trade, particularly of European food and drinks.

    The deal will protect the names of such products as cava, Irish whiskey, feta and prosciutto di Parma, as well as China’s Pixian bean paste, Anji white tea and Panjin rice.

    The pact significantly expands the number of foods protected as “geographical indications” (GIs) from the 10 on both sides that were agreed in 2012, and should help boost trade in higher-value goods.

    “It is a win for both parties, strengthening our trading relationship, benefiting our agricultural and food sectors, and consumers on both sides,” EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan said while on a visit to China.

    GIs are on average more than twice the price of non-GI products, a European Commission official said.

    The protection system means that GI names can only be used for food or drink from a particular region or country. So “feta” can only be applied to cheese of a particular type from Greece.

    The EU has tangled with other trading partners on the issue, many of whom have domestic producers naming their products “feta” or “parma”, some made by the descendants of European immigrants who wanted to preserve their food heritage. – Reuters