European Chamber Stance on the EU-China Agreement on the Cooperation on, and Protection of, Geographical Indications Go back »

2019-11-06 | All chapters

European Chamber Stance on the EU-China Agreement on the Cooperation on, and Protection of, Geographical Indications

The long-awaited conclusion of the EU-China bilateral Agreement on the Cooperation on, and Protection of, Geographical Indications (GI Agreement) is a welcome development for European business, underlining how essential results are for meaningful EU-China cooperation.

The GI Agreement is expected to facilitate more GI exports and further enhance overall bilateral trade in foodstuffs, increasing consumers' awareness and demand for high quality products on both sides while ensuring a high level of protection for EU and Chinese GI goods in their respective markets.

However, although this GI Agreement is a positive step towards improving protection of European GI products in China, updated legislation and stronger enforcement would help to ensure that they are afforded the same high level of protection that Chinese GI products are granted in the EU. Because China’s complex GI protection system—which is actually three separate systems—currently lacks a specific law that defines GIs as IP rights, government agencies often find it unsuitable to use administrative measures to intervene in their protection, leading to losses for European companies. Unifying China’s GI protection system, and laying the right legal foundation would therefore be a further boost to the existing agreement.

It should also be acknowledged that some of the cheese products listed by the EU in the GI Agreement cannot currently be exported to China due to current Chinese standards and regulatory requirements. The European Chamber hopes that both sides can work towards removing these hurdles to honour the agreement to the fullest extent.

Nonetheless, the GI Agreement sets a positive tone for cooperation between the EU and China in other trade areas, as well as for ongoing negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), which both parties agreed to conclude by 2020 in the EU-China Joint Statement that was signed at the 21st EU-China Summit in April this year.

“The signing of this GI Agreement is as valuable to producers in Europe as it is to European businesses in China, who are eager to see this momentum carry through to a successfully concluded EU-China CAI by 2020,” said Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. “This provides China and the EU another opportunity to further the cause of economic liberalisation, but only if the CAI is sufficiently robust and guarantees reciprocal access to each other’s markets.”

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Yichi Zhang