Agriculture minister says PGI for Irish Whiskey and Cream will protect exports to China

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has welcomed the news that the written procedure for concluding the agreement between the EU and the government of the People’s Republic of China on cooperation on, and protection of, geographical indications (GI) has been completed after all delegations voted in favour of the adoption of the European Council decision.

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Minister McConalogue said: “I welcome this agreement which will ensure protection of exports to China of two of Ireland’s spirit drinks geographical indications – Irish Cream and Irish Whiskey – for which my department is the competent authority.

Market diversification and adding value to our high-quality foods is a key initiative in my department and for this government. We will continue to explore all avenues in an attempt to deliver the highest returns for our producers.

Minister of State for new market development Martin Heydon said: “The combined export value of Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream to China rose from €1.47 million in 2018 to €4.36 million in 2019.

“This market is becoming increasingly important for Irish spirit drinks and I welcome the legal protection this agreement will afford to authentic Irish product.”

PGI agreement

A list of 100 European agri-food GIs will be legally protected in China against imitations and the misuse of a product’s name.

Likewise, 100 Chinese products will be protected in the EU, thereby ensuring mutual respect of the best of both agricultural traditions.

Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany and President of the Trade Council said: “It’s the first time we have signed an agreement with China for a mutual protection of geographical indications.

European products will be better protected in the Chinese market with respect to similar products which do not have the origin indicated by that geographical indication. This will help European exports to China and strengthen their market position.

Next steps

After the European Parliament consent on November 11, 2020 and the decision adopted this week in the European Council, the agreement could enter into force at the beginning of 2021.

Within four years, the scope of the agreement will expand to cover an additional 175 geographical indications from both sides. The agreement also includes a mechanism to add more GIs thereafter.


The cooperation between the EU and China in the area of geographical indications started in 2006 and resulted in a first batch of 10 products protected on each sides six years later.

Source: DAFM

In 2019, China was the third largest destination for EU agri-food products, worth €14.5 billion. It is also the second largest destination for EU exports of products protected by GIs, accounting for 9% by value, including wines, spirits and other agri-food products.

In value terms, the market for EU geographical indications is around €74.8 billion, or 6.8% of EU food and drink, and exports worth €16.9 billion account for 15.4% of all EU food and drink exports.