CCFN Urges the U.S. Government to Secure “Firm and Explicit Commitments” from Trading Partners on GIs

March 2nd, 2020

As part of its work in pursuing a level playing field for U.S. companies, the U.S. Administration should secure “firm and explicit commitments” with trading partners to assure the future use of specific generic food and beverage names targeted by EU monopolization efforts, and reject the use of GIs as barriers to trade. This was the message CCFN shared in written and oral testimony with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as the agency prepares its annual review on the status of intellectual property rights protections in its trading relationships around the globe (Special 301 Report).

CCFN expressed appreciation for the Administration’s focus on tearing down trade barriers that hinder U.S. competitiveness, but said that without further commitments that reject illegitimate GIs, U.S. companies are likely to run into further obstacles. That’s because EU governments and stakeholders continue to pursue an agenda to monopolize popular generic names with key trading partners.

“There is a persistent push by the European Union and other European interests to dismantle competition and erect barriers to trade which must be more strongly combatted,” CCFN states in its testimony. “Across all markets, but particularly those with which the U.S. has an FTA [free trade agreement] or is in the process of pursuing an FTA, we urge the Administration to secure explicit commitments from our trading partners that build upon the positive precedent established in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) whereby market access rights were clearly and definitively affirmed for a non-exhaustive list of common used product terms.”

CCFN said this type of tool “should be carried forward aggressively by the Administration in order to safeguard our World Trade Organization and free trade agreement market access rights in the strongest manner possible.” The USTR is expected to release the 2020 Special 301 Report this spring.