The EU and China reached a landmark agreement on November 6 for the mutual recognition of geographical indications (GIs) in both territories. The list includes 100 products per each party to the agreement, and is expected to be extended to even more in the near future.
Protected European GI products include Spanish Manchego cheese, Irish whiskey, Greek Feta cheese, Italian Parma ham, French Champagne, German Münchener Bier, Polish Vodka, Portuguese Porto, and Stilton Cheese among others. On the Chinese side, products such as Pixian bean paste, Anji white tea, Yangtai apples and Panjin rice have been included. While the most recurrent European products on the list are wines and cheeses, the Chinese list is filled with tea specialties.
The agreement has greatly expanded the China-EU mutual recognition of GIsthat started in 2012 with 10 products from each side. The agreement will be of great help to promote high quality European products on the Chinese market. Many of these products are already well-known and risk being copied locally in the absence of adequate protection. .
The agreement is subject to approval by the European Parliament and EU member states and is expected to enter into force by the end of 2020.
A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production.
The Chinese government has recently shown interest in developing the GI system further on their own territory in order to promote rural development. Cooperation with Europe, arguably the creator and guardian of such system on the global stage, may become an important model and partner in this endeavour.