EU and China sign bilateral agreement to protect GIs

The EU and China have today (Monday, September 14) signed a “landmark agreement” protecting European geographical indications (GIs).

The bilateral agreement will see 100 European GIs protected in China and 100 Chinese GIs in the EU against imitation and usurpation.

The agreement, first concluded in November 2019, should bring “reciprocal trade benefits; as well as introducing consumer to guaranteed, quality products on both sides”, according to the European Commission.

‘Benefiting our agri-food sector’

Agriculture and rural development commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said he is “proud to see this agreement getting one step closer to its entry into force”.

“European GI products are renowned for their quality and diversity; it is important to protect them at an EU and global level to ensure their authenticity and preserve their reputation,” he said.

This agreement will contribute to this, while also strengthening our trading relationship, benefiting our agri-food sector and consumers on both sides.

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

The EU list of GIs to be protected in China include Irish whiskey, feta and champagne. Among the Chinese GI products are Pixian douban (Pixian bean paste), Anji bai cha (Anji white tea) and Panjin Da Mi (Panjin rice).

Following the signature of the agreement and the European Parliament consent, it will officially be adopted by the European Council. The agreement is expected to enter into force at the beginning of 2021.

Within four years after its entry into force, the scope of the agreement will expand to cover an additional 175 GI names from both sides.

The first significant bilateral trade agreement between the EU and China was signed on July 20.

In 2019, the EU expanded its market for agri-food products in China. The value of exports grew by €4.2 billion.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing when it comes to relations between the EU and China as, during the summer, the EU recalled its request to China to authorise EU member states’ exports of agricultural products.

The EU outlined concerns about new restrictions introduced on food exports to the Asian country, on the grounds of “controlling the coronavirus pandemic, leading to an increased number of unjustified inspections, controls and requests for certificates on EU exports of agricultural products”.