CHANGSHA, 23 September (Xinhua) — Starting next year, thanks to the signing of an agreement between China and the EU on the origin of products, Chinese consumers will have more reliable access to real European specialties such as Irish whisky, Bavarian beer, prosciutto di Parma. Basically, these products are intellectual property – decades of agricultural know-how, a unique climate or careful investments have separated them from any other product like you in the world. Governments often try to protect these products with geographic indications (GIs), which are labels that label products as originating from a given location and possess “qualities or reputation” from that site. Within four years of its entry into force, the scope of the agreement will extend to an additional 175 BILLION on both sides. These names must follow the same approval procedure as the 100 names already covered by the agreement (assessment and publication of notices). Europe is a major global exporter of famous agricultural products, and the stakes of this agreement are important to them if it works. According to the European Observatory for Intellectual Property Rights Violations (PDF, p. 23), the European spirits and wine sector alone is losing 6,049 jobs and 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion) in direct sales per year due to counterfeiting. Today, China is the EU`s third largest agricultural and food market and, thanks to a prosperous middle class, is growing rapidly. The agreement will protect 100 European GIs and as many Chinese GIs in the EU from usurpation and counterfeiting.
After the signing of the agreement and the approval of the European Parliament, it will be officially adopted by the Council. The agreement is expected to enter into force in early 2021. Geographical indications have also proven to be a useful marketing tool that helps to guarantee producers higher and more stable export earnings: according to a study commissioned by the Commission in 2013, a product with a geographical indication sells on average more than double the price of a similar non-geographical indication product. In addition, China is a fast-growing market for food and beverage products in Europe. This agreement will therefore benefit European producers and should give a boost to the rural areas where these products are made. The bilateral Geographical Indications Agreement (IG), signed on 14 September, aims to protect the 275 varieties of specialties on each side, including wine, tea, agricultural products and food. The Council today adopted decisions on the signing of the agreement between the European Union and the Government of the People`s Republic of China on geographical indications (G.G. Under the agreement, Chinese products also have the right to use the official EU certification label, making it easier for Chinese companies to export products to Europe. But just accepting that a particular product is indicated geographically does not mean that all counterfeits will stop.