U.S. Agriculture Secretary and CCFN Share Podium at Argentina G20 GI Event

September 4th, 2018

In conjunction with the G20 Summit in Argentina in July, CCFN participated in an event hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), to highlight the abuse of geographical indications policies. The event, which took place at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence, featured remarks by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and CCFN Executive Director Jaime Castaneda. CCFN is grateful to the members who contributed high-quality “common name” cheeses and wines to be served at the event, which was well-attended by local industry representatives and diplomatic staff from Argentina and other Latin American nations.

Perdue tweeted after the event, “Joined @USAmbassadorARG and friends in Latin America to celebrate the common named foods producers and consumers have enjoyed for decades. We need to stand together against abuse of geographic indications.” And in an article in a top U.S. political publication (Roll Call) immediately following the event, Perdue said, “We feel the EU has become increasingly aggressive in their agreements and frankly we’ve become aggressive in our warnings to these countries who want to trade with us that they better be careful about accepting any kind of geographical indicators from the EU trying to brand or trademark or patent common food names.”

CCFN Executive Director Jaime Castaneda told the gathering at the reception, “We are watching closely the negotiations between the EU and many countries, including the partners of Mercosur. It is easy to bend to the EU’s pressures, but I can tell you that we and many other countries have demonstrated that you can stand up to these European pressures. You can and must push back on the EU. Other nations have done this successfully.”

He added, “I would say, if the EU wants to be a leader in parmesan, feta or chorizo, they should compete head-to-head in those markets and win consumers based on quality and taste. They should stop trying to steal these markets by shutting out the competition. This is a moment for you to protect the interests of your local food producers, to respect commitments under existing international agreements, and to ensure that your consumers have choice in the marketplace.”

Argentina and its Mercosur trade partners (Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) have been striving to complete a free trade agreement with the EU. Among the most hotly debated items is the EU’s GI list, which contains 357 products; about 50 of which are controversial, including parmesan cheese and rioja wine.