USTR Special 301 Report Examines Trade Barriers Caused by Geographical Indications

ARLINGTON, VA – The Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) expressed their support today for the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) prioritization of the protection of common names in this year’s Special 301 Report.

The annual report details the largest intellectual property challenges around the world, including the European Union’s exploitation of geographical indication rules to confiscate common names – such as “parmesan” or “feta” – and prevent non-EU producers from using those terms to market or sell their products in certain markets.

“The European Union’s abuse of geographical indications is purely an anti-competitive campaign to block producers and exporters in the United States and elsewhere from accessing key markets,” said CCFN Executive Director Jaime Castaneda. “We are thankful that USTR continues to recognize these efforts as a threat that needs to be addressed. Now, it’s time for the U.S. government to utilize its full suite of tools to secure the market access rights of common name producers.”

CCFN submitted comments to the agency in January, emphasizing the need for the U.S. government to become invested in this issue, and expounding on how producers on-the-ground are negatively impacted when the European Union confiscates common names. Castaneda then testified before USTR staff at a February hearing on the Special 301 process.

House GSP Bill Supports Fair Market Access for U.S. Dairy Farmers

ARLINGTON, VA – The U.S. Dairy Export Council, National Milk Producers Federation, and Consortium for Common Food Names commended this week’s House Ways and Means Committee markup of a bill that would renew the Generalized Systems of Preferences (GSP) trade program with new agriculture-specific eligibility criteria, giving U.S. dairy producers a fairer opportunity to sell their products in key markets. GSP has not been in effect since it expired at the end of 2020.

The GSP trade program helps developing countries use trade to grow their economies by eliminating U.S. duties for a wide range of products. GSP-eligible countries must meet certain conditions. Today’s bill will introduce new provisions for the agriculture industry, including requirements that beneficiary countries provide open and equitable market access to U.S. agriculture exports and protect the generic use of common food and beverage terms like “parmesan” and “feta.”

“The U.S. dairy community is grateful for these expanded criteria, which will enable America’s dairy farmers and producers to compete on a level playing field in these new and growing markets,” said Krysta Harden, USDEC president and CEO. “A special thank you to Representatives Adrian Smith, Jimmy Panetta, and Michelle Fischbach, who continue to be champions for the U.S. dairy industry. Now more than ever, our members count on exports to succeed, and we look forward to supporting this bill through to the finish line.”

“American dairy producers and cooperatives rely upon fair access to international markets,” said Gregg Doud, NMPF president and CEO. “We’re thankful for Representatives Smith, Panetta and Fischbach’s leadership on preserving market access for U.S. dairy exports and sending a message to competitors who try to create an unlevel playing field.”

As the European Union continues to try to monopolize common name foods and beverages by imposing overreaching geographical indication policies on countries worldwide, the new GSP eligibility requirements would provide a vital response on behalf of American cheesemakers.

“The European Union has expanded its protectionist and anti-competitive campaign to monopolize common name food and beverages well beyond its borders, to countries in every corner of the globe,” said Jaime Castaneda, CCFN executive director. “The U.S. government has the political and economic influence to fight back. We’re pleased to see that Congress is starting to utilize the tools at its disposal to secure producers’ common names rights.”