Parliament should back deal between EU and China that would ‘protect 200 products’

Parliament should “back the deal between the EU and China that would protect 200 European and Chinese products”, the European Committee on International Trade said this week.

In a resolution approved by 38 votes, with one vote against and three abstentions, the trade committee backed the EU’s agreement with China, signed in September.

It will ensure that 100 European products bearing geographical indications (GIs) such as Irish whiskey, feta and champagne are protected.

In exchange, 100 Chinese products will enjoy the same type of protection in the EU. Within four years, the agreement will be extended to include a further 175 European and Chinese products.

‘A confidence-booster’

While trade MEPs welcomed the agreement they see primarily as a “confidence-booster”, they call on China to “extend the constructive cooperation to the ongoing negotiations on a bilateral investment agreement”.

In addition, they want that constructive cooperation to extend into areas of conflict, such as: on industrial subsidies; state-owned enterprises; forced technology transfer; reciprocity in public procurement and overcapacity in steel; aluminium; and high-tech.

Rapporteur Iuliu Winkler said that the EU-China agreement on the protection of GIs is a “positive step forward in the bilateral relationship”, along with being a “good tool to promote and protect the authenticity of high-quality products” on the respective markets.

“It is primarily a confidence-building exercise, serving as a measurement of the parties’ ambition to ensure the deal is implemented effectively. The trade committee will actively participate in monitoring and scrutinising the agreement’s effective implementation, seeking frequent reporting from the European Commission.”

Next steps….

Parliament is set to vote on its consent to the agreement and the accompanying resolution at its first November session (November 11-12). With parliament’s consent, the council has to adopt the agreement so that it can enter into force at the beginning of 2021.

Background

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 GI products, accounting for 9% in value, including wines, spirit drinks, and agri-food products. In 2018 and 2019, however, 80% of seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods originated in China, causing a €60 billion loss to EU suppliers, says the report.

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

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”.