China-EU agreement on geographical indications: a new commitment to trade globalization
The Council of the European Union made a decision on July 20 local time to formally authorize the signing of the China-EU agreement on geographical indications. The agreement is the first significant bilateral trade agreement signed by the EU and China after more than eight years of negotiations. It will ensure that 100 geographical
indications from the EU and China are protected in each other’s markets, thus ensuring mutual respect for each other’s fine agricultural traditions.
Among the 100 geographical indications provided by the EU, from the perspective of the products involved, alcohol accounted for the vast majority, reaching 73, including 4 beers, 54 wines and 15 spirits. In addition, the second product was cheese, with 14. Among the 100 geographical indications provided by China, in terms of products involved, the most category is tea, reaching 28, followed by wine, with a total of 11. Other products include navel orange, bean paste, vinegar, mung bean, rice, mushroom and so on.
According to the arrangement between the two sides, the protection scope of the agreement will be extended to 175 additional geographical indication names of both sides after it enters into force four years later. As the important birthplaces of eastern and Western cultures on both sides of the Eurasian continent, China and the EU are rich in species and pay enough attention to the protection of geographical indications. According to statistics, by the end of March 2020, the total number of protected geographical indication products in EU is 3322. As a comparison, by the end of June, China had approved 2385 geographical indication products. Therefore, from a longer-term perspective, if necessary, the China-EU agreement on geographical indications is likely to further expand the scope of its protection.
From the data of import and export amount, the trade volume of agricultural products between China and the EU has reached 19.822 billion euro in 2019. Although China has a trade deficit of nearly 9 billion euro in agricultural products, it is not easy to increase the export of agricultural products to the EU. This first relates to whether the export of agricultural products is suitable for the tastes and preferences of consumers in the EU. Secondly, it involves the issue of product standards. After all, any food entering the EU market must first comply with the provisions of the EU’s strict “White Paper on Food Safety”.
The successful conclusion of the China-EU agreement on geographical indications will not only help the EU maintain a stable export of high-quality geographical indication products to China, but also help China continuously improve its own quality of agricultural products and strive to provide more choices for European dining tables. This is a win-win measure. Of course, from a more macro perspective, China and the EU, as the largest developing country and the largest developed country association respectively, have also demonstrated the consensus and determination of both sides to continuously promote the common development of the world’s open economy.
HU Gang, Director of Trademark Department of CCPIT Patent & Trademark Law Office.
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