Setting the Proper GI Stage for Possible US-EU Trade Negotiations

March 13th, 2019

As the U.S. considers its negotiating objectives for a possible U.S.-EU trade agreement, CCFN filed comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in December to caution the Administration on the EU’s problematic geographical indications (GI) agenda.

Among other factors, CCFN highlighted the EU’s illegitimate registration of “danbo” as a GI despite the fact that “danbo”, “havarti” and other terms have been designated as generic within the international Codex Alimentarius standards. The comments also urged USTR to preserve strong language from its Special 301 trade report from 2018 and to act to address those concerns: “The EU pressures trading partners to prevent all producers other than those EU producers in certain EU regions from using certain product names, such as fontina, gorgonzola, asiago, or feta, even though they are the common names for products, and the products are produced in countries around the world. In the EU and other markets that have adopted the EU GI system, American producers and traders either are effectively blocked from those markets or are otherwise restricted.”

CCFN cautioned USTR to reject any attempts by the EU to employ an approach to GIs that runs counter to the Administration’s goals to remove unfair impediments to U.S. manufacturing. In fact, it would be best to hold separate discussions specific to the topic of GIs and common names to tackle “this complex and deeply fraught issue”, CCFN wrote; separate talks could then address the myriad problems that EU GI policy has created both in the EU market and in U.S. export markets around the world.