CCFN To Defend Common Names on Proposed Mexican-EU GI List

August 31st, 2017

Mexico has posted for comment by October 9 a proposed list of GIs that would be protected within its EU free trade agreement process. As reported in the last CCFN ALERT, we have worked diligently with the Mexican government and companies within Mexico to seek to safeguard the use of common names and push for fair and transparent processes in establishing protected GIs. This work has been particularly active since 2016 when Mexico and the EU launched negotiations to update their free trade agreement (FTA). The EU has made clear its intent to use those FTA discussions to seek to force Mexico to approve a lengthy list of hundreds of GIs, accompanied by a nebulous and broad scope of protection. These talks now run parallel to the ongoing “NAFTA 2.0” negotiations, in which Mexico has insisted – together with U.S. agriculture – on the importance of moving forward in a positive way on trade issues and shunning the creation of new barriers to trade.

“We think the publication of this list before Mexico has concluded its own internal GI registration system puts the cart before the horse and deprives stakeholders of important due process rights,” said CCFN Executive Director Jaime Castaneda. “Nonetheless, we will seize this key opportunity to get common name users’ concerns on the record and insist on their preservation.”

The U.S. and Mexican dairy industries are already expressing concern about the EU’s attempt to impose new barriers to trade through the abuse of GIs if the EU gains exclusive use of common cheese names like asiago, gorgonzola and feta.

Last month, Castaneda and dairy industry leaders met with Mexican officials at the 2nd U.S.-Mexico Dairy Alliance meeting (pictured here), helping further iterate the importance of fair GI policies and the protection of common names. The Alliance meeting yielded a joint statement by CCFN members U.S. Dairy Export Council, National Milk Producers Federation (USA) and the Mexican Cámara Nacional de la Industria de la Leche (CANILEC), joined by Mexico’s leading dairy farmer organizations, that reaffirmed the four organizations’ commitment to combatting the misuse of GIs as barriers to trade and sales of common name products. (See NMPF news release.)