EU-China deal on geographical indications "historic" - Paris

EU-China summit – France welcomes signature of agreement between European Union and China on geographical indications – Press release issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food

Paris, 14 September 2020

The agreement between the EU and China on cooperation on, and protection of, geographical indications was signed at the EU-China summit today. This signature follows the impetus given to the negotiations by the French President’s visit to China in November 2019, in the framework of the International [Import] Expo in Shanghai, during which the political conclusion of the negotiations was announced.

This is the first bilateral agreement of this scale between the EU and China on such an issue. It secures major trade openings for French agricultural exporters, particularly of wines and spirits. The signature of the agreement is part of the EU’s overall strategy – strongly supported by France – of promoting our geographical-indications protection standards.

When it comes into force after being approved by the European Parliament, the agreement will provide a high level of protection to 100 European and 100 Chinese geographical indications (GIs) for wines, spirits and agrifood products. Twenty-six French GIs (1) will benefit from this, including some names which are among the most prestigious but also the most misused in China.

The French GIs concerned will enjoy strong safeguards:

- the protection of GI names’ translations and transliterations in the Chinese language;

- a rejection of third-party registrations of protected GI names as trademarks;

- the automatic rejection of trademark applications misusing the GIs contained in the agreement, including mentions of GIs.

The agreement also stipulates that a further 175 European and Chinese geographical indications will also enjoy this protection in the four years after it comes into force.

France would like the agreement to enable a deeper sharing of knowledge between China and the European Union – which benefits from the world’s most complete geographical-indications system – and to help China strengthen and harmonize its legislation on geographical indications in the context of a reorganization of its bodies responsible for their protection.

With its European partners, France will be careful to ensure this agreement is implemented properly so that it effectively protects French geographical indications in China from imitation and trademark registration abuse.

More broadly, the signing of this agreement is consistent with France’s objectives for EU-China trade and investment relations, combining trade openness, better access to the Chinese market, fair competition conditions and reciprocity.

In Julien Denormandie’s words, “This is a historic bilateral agreement between the European Union and China. By protecting our geographical indications, which are the pride and prestige of our farmers and wine producers, it helps enhance the value of our French expertise. It also testifies to similar views shared between two geographical areas which are both very committed to respecting their particularly rich culinary heritage.”

For Franck Riester, “The signing of this agreement with the world’s second-largest trading power is a milestone in recognizing our system for protecting geographical indications. In a Chinese market looking for proof of product authenticity and quality, it addresses a genuine demand and will provide added value for our exporters of agrifood products. It lays the groundwork for strengthening our economic ties with China on a basis of reciprocity and increased protection for the rights of our companies in terms of intellectual property”./.

(1) Alsace, Armagnac, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Chablis, Calvados, Champagne, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cognac (/eau de vie de cognac/eau-de-vie des Charentes), Comté, Côtes du Rhône, Côtes de Provence, Côtes du Roussillon, Graves, Languedoc, Margaux, Médoc, Pauillac, Pays d’Oc, Pessac-Léognan, Pomerol, Pruneaux d’Agen (/Pruneaux d’Agen mi-cuits), Roquefort, Saint-Emilion, (+ Genièvre, a GI shared with the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany).

Published on 16/09/2020

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