CCFN and Supporters Press U.S. Trade Representative Tai on Tackling Trade-Limiting Restrictions on Common Food and Beverage Names

December 8th, 2021

At U.S. Trade Representative Tai’s Senate confirmation hearing in late February 2021, Tai told Senators on the Finance Committee that she would prioritize protecting the use of common food names in future trade negotiations. She noted that the United States secured historic protections for common food names in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and that she would build on that success in future trade negotiations. This follows on the heels of CCFN’s extensive work throughout last year to re-educated Congressional offices on the issue of common names and to press USTR to expand protections for those terms as it negotiates with trading partners.

In a March 2021 letter organized by CCFN, a broad cross-section of national food, agriculture, and beverage associations urged the new U.S. Trade Representative to preserve U.S. exporters’ foreign market access by protecting their rights to use common food and beverage terms around the world and rejecting EU-led efforts to hamstring global competition through restricting the use of those terms. The groups called out the EU’s continued use of trade agreements to impose barriers barring the United States and other nations from competing on a level playing field in the sale of various commonly named food and beverage products.

Tai, who was confirmed in mid-March, also has been receptive to on the need to address the growing challenges facing the use of commonly named products. As noted above, under her leadership, USTR recently issued two reports – the National Trade Estimate and the Special 301 (see above) – that included the U.S. government’s commitment to contest the EU’s continued misuse of GIs as a way of limiting exports to the EU and even to countries with which it has trade agreements.

Ambassador Tai also participated in the Hybrid Annual Meeting for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture in September, and when pressed about the U.S. – Mexico – Canada Agreement and GIs, she offered her strong support for common names, saying that she “understands the concerns of dairy producers, and particularly cheese manufacturers who want to export cheeses using common names for types of cheeses that they’ve been producing for decades and in some cases over generations. I want everyone to know that at USTR we remain committed to enforcing all the provisions in this agreement and certainly [to] ensuring that Canada and Mexico live up to their promises for our American dairy farmers.”