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31/01/2020
20/01/2020
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ECTA MEMBERS’ VOICE: Do You Like “Anji Bai Cha”? EU-China Agreement on Geographical Indications is Signed!
15/10/2020
By Ozlem Futman, ECTA Geographical Indications Committee member, Ofo Ventura (TR)

After a long negotiation period of over ten years, the European Union and the People's Republic of China recently signed the ‘EU-China Agreement on Cooperation on, and Protection of, Geographical Indications’. This is not only the first significant bilateral trade Agreement signed between the EU and China, but also the first comprehensive, high-level bilateral Agreement on GIs of China.

The first phase of negotiations between the parties ran from 2007 to 2012 as a pilot project called ‘10+10’ through which ten EU GIs were allowed to be registered under the AQSIQ regime in China and ten Chinese GIs in the EU. The EU GIs included in the pilot project were Comté, Grana Padano, Priego de Córdoba, Prosciutto di Parma, Pruneaux d'Agen/Pruneaux d'Agen mi-cuits, Roquefort, Scottish Farmed Salmon, Sierra Mágina, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, White Stilton Cheese and Blue Stilton Cheese.

Then in 2010, the EU Council requested the EU Commission to negotiate further for an EU-China Agreement, in order to include 100 GIs from each side. The parties concluded the negotiations in November 2019.

The recently signed Agreement has special importance because the Chinese market has high-growth potential for European food and drinks. 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 as GIs, accounting for 9% by value, including wines, agri-food products and spirit drinks. If you would like to check the Agri-Food Trade Statistical Factsheet, please click HERE. Thanks to this Agreement, the EU consumers will be able to discover genuine Chinese specialities.

The EU list of GIs to be protected in China under the Agreement includes iconic GI products such as Cava, Champagne, Irish whiskey, Münchener Bier, Ouzo, Polska Wódka, Porto, Prosciutto di Parma and Barolo (which is very much loved by the author of this article!). Among the Chinese GIs to be protected, we see for example Pixian Dou Ban (Pixian Bean Paste), Anji Bai Cha (Anji White Tea), Panjin Da Mi (Panjin rice) and Anqiu Da Jiang (Anqiu Ginger) on the list.

Following the signature of the Agreement and the European Parliament consent, it will officially be adopted by the Council. The expectation is that the Agreement will enter into force at the beginning of 2021. After this, within four years, an additional 175 GI names from both sides will be covered as well by following the same approval procedure as the 100 names already covered by the Agreement. The Agreement has six annexes, two of which list the additional 175 GIs from each side to be protected within the four years after the Agreement is put into force.

Due to its nature, the EU China Agreement, in its Article 7 merely says ‘the parties enforce the protection of GIs by appropriate actions of their authorities, and that such protection shall be enforced at the request of an interested party also. This is without prejudice to the rights of interested parties to seek judicial enforcement’. However, it seems still to be reviewed and clarified how the GIs will be enforced under light of the Chinese GI legislation. Meanwhile, the other point where clarification seems to be needed is the revocation of a GI on account of genericness because, as far as we know, the parties have quite different views on this issue.

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The views expressed are those of our members and not necessarily of ECTA as an association.

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If you wish to join the ECTA Geograpihical Indications Committee, do not miss the ECTA General Committee Elections upcoming next January!
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