U.S. Government Denounces EU Abuse of GI Protections in Special 301 Report

May 28th, 2020

The U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) annual Special 301 Report on global intellectual property protection and enforcement included a (dis)honorable mention of the European Union’s (EU) ongoing abuse of geographical indications (GIs) protections to prevent the trade of common name products.

Prior to the report, CCFN filed extensive comments to USTR outlining the EU’s government-driven effort to expand GI restrictions and CCFN Senior Director Shawna Morris testified at a USTR-led hearing, urging the U.S. government to use all tools at its disposal to boldly advance on common name safeguards in the strongest manner possible.

The Special 301 Report adds to the growing U.S. attention surrounding this critical issue and the ramifications of weaponizing GI protections as trade barriers. The report notes that “U.S. goals…include… Ensuring that the grant of GI protection does not deprive interested parties of the ability to use common names, such as parmesan or feta.”

“As CCFN asserted in our testimony before USTR, the EU’s GI campaign is as deliberate as it is destructive,” CCFN Executive Director Jaime Castaneda said. “With its denunciation of the EU’s GI barriers, the USTR has sent a firm message that these unfair trade practices will absolutely not be tolerated.”

USTR has once again acknowledged the necessity of breaking down the EU’s trade barriers in order to keep international markets open to common food name products. CCFN will continue to build upon the extensive groundwork already completed with USTR to secure even stronger protections in future trade negotiations.